While the EKOCENTER model is innovative and forward-thinking, the kiosks are only as good as the technology and services they provide. Meet Mamunur and Omari: the engineers responsible for improving the water purification technology used within a typical EKOCENTER.
“We helped develop a water filtration system that provides clean water at EKOCENTERs and we provide ongoing guidance on most technical issues. We also monitor the EKOCENTERs remotely via satellite technology to maintain the quality of services we provide,” Omari explained.
“Our job is all about pushing the envelope to find the most effective way to deliver water within the EKOCENTER or even outside the kiosks in local communities. Take the reverse osmosis system we recently developed in partnership with Pentair. While a lot of components are off-the-shelf, this was not easy to do. It took a lot of testing internally and piloting in the field to create the best product.”
One of the difficulties the team has had to overcome is lack of access to power. EKOCENTER kiosks are powered by solar panels, which creates unusual constraints.
“When we open an EKOCENTER in the middle of nowhere, we rely on limited amounts of energy to operate,” Mamunur explained. “The team has built an on-demand water solution so when someone opens the tap, the system automatically turns on. This allows us to conserve energy so we only use power when we need it.”
Operating in remote areas of the world with limited resources has also forced the team to be innovative with the tools that are at their disposal. Recently, they found a way to leverage recycled equipment to store water locally.
“We used to buy costly stainless steel tanks to store our water until we had the idea to repurpose containers that Coke uses to ship key beverage ingredients,” Mamunur explained. “Now we clean the containers and refurbish them to store water at EKOCENTERs. These containers allow us to recycle used materials, cut costs and operate more efficiently.”
To implement their innovative solutions, the team must rely on local partners to be successful. “The world’s best engineered plans depend on local implementation. We need local people to maintain the system and continue to push EKOCENTER forward. It has to become something that the community owns to be successful – and we are finding that they are,” Omari stressed.
When asked the most exciting aspect of his job, Omari said, “It’s the opportunity to really have an effect on these communities – to help people who need the type of services that EKOCENTER provides. Knowing the impact we have on their daily lives is why we joined the project.”