The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), is spearheading a four-year project that seeks to achieve a wider uptake of water-smart solutions, such as the treatment, recycling and reuse of resources recovered from wastewater.
This will help in addressing the vast socio-economic and environmental challenges associated with liquid and solid waste management.
The project objectives among others, seek to develop a solid bi-product known as Biochar from wastewater for fuel, while treated liquid waste could be used for urban agricultural purposes, especially vegetable farming.
Presently, the researchers under the project titled, “Achieving wider uptake of water-smart solutions,” (WIDER UPTAKE), are piloting these innovations from the Mudor Sewerage Treatment Plant in Accra, where the biochar products were being developed from sludge recovered from wastewater, to substitute domestic use of fossil fuel.
Dr Wilhemina Quaye, the Director, CSIR-Science and Technology Policy Research Institute (STEPRI), at a workshop with members of the Community of Practice (COP) in Accra, said when fully operationalised, the project benefits could be enormous in addressing the vast economic, environmental and social challenges regarding liquid and solid waste management.
She said the project was designed around a set of innovative circular economy solutions, and co-development of a roadmap, as well as a business model for water-smart solutions.
She said the Council’s engagement with key stakeholders, was to provide them with the needed information on the project, to enable them to contribute ideas, policies and strategies towards the development of a business model for water-smart solutions, and to also validate findings from the project activities on stakeholder network mapping.
The participants were from key institutions including; the Energy Commission, Ghana Standards Authority, Food and Drugs Authority, farmer associations, and the various institutes under the CSIR, including; the Water Resource Institute (WRI).
Dr Quaye spoke about the CSIR-STEPRI mandate as a research-based institution, saying, it now sought to deepen its engagements with policy formulation and implementation, enhance cross-cutting research projects areas such as climate change, sustainable development, gender, generating innovation and its commercialisation activities.
She called for strengthened stakeholder collaboration and media partnership in public education to achieve the Project’s objectives, which included acceptance of the end products to ensure socio-economic development.
Dr Gordon Akon-Yamga, the Project Coordinator, said the project had both social, economic and environmental benefits, as the use of untreated streams by urban vegetable and other small scale agricultural farmers, posed a serious health threat to consumers due to the high contents of pathogens in the water.
He said the EU funded project would among other things facilitate industrial cooperation to increase resource efficiency, limit carbon emissions, and develop a sustainable business based on water-smart solutions.
It would also ensure effective collaboration among stakeholders, for the success of the project, and enhance the country’s progress towards achieving the water-related United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were challenged by barriers, including water pollution, scarcity and population growth.
Dr Akom-Yamga made a presentation on the Business Model Canvas, which he said was an effective tool for helping users to understand and communicate an organisation’s business model, visually representing its elements, the potential interconnectedness as well as impacts on value creation.
He further projected the Triple-Layered Business Model canvas, which had economic, environmental, and economic layers incorporated in them, saying it was the best, due to its consideration of other socio-cultural and environmental factors.
Ms Justina Onumah, a Senior Researcher, CSIR-STEPRI, presented the project’s Network Maps, stressing the importance of interacting with the various public sector institutions, including the Accra Metropolitan Assembly, the Sewerage Systems Ghana Limited (SSGL), and the media.
She said COPs, needed to be sensitized to be able to initiate canvassing on the industrial symbiosis, ensure effective legislative instrument on wastewater treatment, and to strengthen advocacy for public engagement on acceptance of end products by consumers.