16 September 2012

AguaClara Inc.: Seize the day

AguaClara is out of the box

It is no longer the best kept secret. We are receiving requests for designs from more and more countries. It is time to seize the moment. This is our time to make a difference. It is time to create AguaClara Inc. AguaClara is seeking impact investors who will make it possible to open a central office with a staff to begin networking and providing support services for implementation partners. In the coming weeks we will also need to identify the individuals who will provide the skill set, leadership, and experience necessary to establish AguaClara as the drinking water treatment technology of choice.

We've been preparing for this day!

I have been dreaming for many years of the day when news about AguaClara would spread globally and more importantly, that rapidly increasing demand for AguaClara technologies would leave us scrambling. My goal was to be as ready as possible for that moment so that AguaClara could scale quickly. Over the years we've had various ideas of how the spread might happen. Given our strong presence in Honduras we explored the possibility that the spread would be regional with an initial focus on Central America. Two years ago during the summer of 2010, I gave a short course at the Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala and I expected that it would result in the construction of AguaClara plants in Guatemala. Perhaps that short course was premature given that it was a stretch for us to provide adequate detail in our designs. We also didn't have a system in place then to provide technical support for a new partner to build AguaClara facilities. In any case, construction has not yet begun on AguaClara facilities in Guatemala. If we weren't ready in 2010, why do I think we are ready now?

Now we are ready!

Here are a few factors that suggest that scale up can begin. 2012 is a year of rapid transition for AguaClara.

  • For the first time Honduran towns are paying Agua Para el Pueblo for AguaClara facility designs.
  • I was invited to give a presentation to water sector professionals at the World Bank headquarters in Washington this spring.
  • Arturo Diaz, subdirector of Agua Para el Pueblo, will be presenting the AguaClara program at the CLOCSAS (Latin American community based water and sanitation) conference in Cuenca, Ecuador next week.
  • I was invited to present the AguaClara program at a World Bank conference in South Asia in early October.
  • Our designs are now easily accessible.
  • AguaClara plant performance data is available in real time.
  • Bahir Dar University in Ethiopia is preparing to build an AguaClara plant to serve the campus community and to be a model.

Observation 1: The spread of AguaClara technologies is not going to be based on geographic proximity. The ease of communication and our strong presence on the internet means that the spread of AguaClara will be based on our rich network of connections rather than on geographic proximity.
Conclusion 1: AguaClara should prepare to spread globally and not just regionally.

Observation 2: Publicity about AguaClara is spreading at three levels. In Honduras the word is spreading among towns and cities. The word is spreading at the level of institutions that have the potential to become implementation partners. Finally the word is spreading within the development banks and at the level of policy makers. The AguaClara design server is receiving several requests from new countries every week.
Conclusion 2: The global spread has the potential to happen very quickly.

Observation 3: AguaClara technologies will only be implemented successfully with strong technical support. One of the reasons that AguaClara facilities have not been built outside of Honduras is that infrastructure is expensive and that new implementation partners are not willing to take the risk of adopting a new technology unless there is engineering support and institutional backing.
Conclusion 3: Services that include site specific design customization, capacity building, fabrication methods, certification, and ongoing technical support will be essential if AguaClara technologies are going to be widely adopted. AguaClara Inc. is needed to provide these services.

It is time for the count down!

The time to create AguaClara Inc. is now, before the end of 2012. AguaClara Inc. will make it possible for AguaClara technologies to spread globally. It is an opportunity to bring safe drinking water to hundreds of millions using technologies that are sustainable. It is an opportunity for graduates from the Cornell AguaClara program to use their engineering skills to make the world a better place. It is an opportunity to create a new standard for sustainable infrastructure based on simplicity on the other side of complexity.

We need your help to launch AguaClara Inc. We need wisdom. We need money. We need the best people we can assemble. Please contact us with your ideas and connections to help AguaClara Inc. launch successfully.

Contact us at AguaClara@cornell.edu or add to the discussion below!