During the “Pacific Water and Wastewater Conference” from Nov 14-18, 2022, Mascara NT, a French company specialised in water treatment solutions with the use of renewable energies, has launched its first water access program for remote communities in Vanuatu. Implemented with the Department of Water Resource of Vanuatu within the framework of the National Water Strategy, the plan could sustainably supply six isolated island communities with safe drinking water. A total of eight solar-powered OSMOSUN desalination units will be delivered, with two additional units to be supplied as mobile solutions and intended for emergency situations.
Securing access to drinking water with a low-carbon desalination solution
Located between New Caledonia and Fiji, Vanuatu is spread over 83 islands, with some smaller islands facing drinking water issues. Benefitting from seasonal heavy rains, these islands’ water supply relies mostly on rainwater harvesting and supply through underground aquifers. The changing rainfall patterns threatens water availability for some islands which have thus experienced water access problems, both in quality and quantity. Complementing the existing water supply with desalination systems is securing these communities by guaranteeing water access, no matter the rainy season experienced.
This program will install Mascara NT’s OSMOSUN solar powered, battery free desalination units, standalone solar powered water access point in six isolated villages, with two additional units to be mobile and intended for emergency situations. These low carbon and low environmental impacts desalination units will supply drinking water to villages and strengthen the capacities and resilience of Department of Water Resources -DoWR-, the national water management agency, in particular via these two mobile solar desalination units that can be mobilized in the event of a crisis.
The OSMOSUN units are currently being manufactured and are expected to be delivered and installed in 2023. The Vanuatu program is funded by the French Treasury and the Department of Water Resource in Vanuatu.
The program includes training of the local operator, the communities – owner and operator of the systems – and the DoWR as well as spare sparts supply to offer a long term water supply service in rural Vanuatu.
Social engineering, key to sustainable access to water
As an echo of Mascara NT’s philosophy and vision, the Vanuatu project does not only consist in manufacturing and implementing solar powered desalination units. Each site and community are audited so Mascara NT’s staff and the DoWR together facilitate the most suitable operational framework for each situation. This focus on the operation phase of the plant aims at empowering local operators in charge of the water supply to ensure the units’ maintenance, hence sustaining the water service. This critical phase is including tailored capacity building sessions for local operators and support for spare parts storage.
The Vanuatu programme is demonstrating the relevance of the combination of frugal autonomous desalination solutions with social engineering to secure water access for the Islands of the Pacific.
“We are very proud to launch this program in the Pacific region,” said Quentin Ragetly, CEO of Mascara NT. “This is a unique opportunity for Mascara NT to show its know-how, install low-carbon desalination units but also listen to the needs of all stakeholders – Ministry of Water, governments, operators and users – to work and implement sustainable solutions together to secure access to drinking water. This is our value proposition and above all our vision and mission.”