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  • Cecilia Wandiga

Kenya Sustainable Cities - Blue Economy and Waste Water Management


Blue Economy is a transboundary issue. Rivers flow through multiple counties (sometimes countries - e.g. Nile River across Africa and Danube River across Europe). Lakes often supply fresh water across multiple countries and the underground acquifers that keep the lakes full of fresh water have inputs from multiple sources. Oceans connect us across continents.

Just about every land-based industrial activity has an impact on the quality of our water systems. Waste water management is as important as reducing plastic pollution. There is no point in sending dirty waste into clean water systems then spending money to clean what should be clean water so that we can drink it.  

What we should be doing is cleaning our waste water and sewage so that any discharges are clean enough to drink. This way, we don't waste money trying to clean what was originally clean water. Namibia has one of the world's first successful waste water purification plants (in operation since 1968).  

https://www.cnn.com/2014/05/01/world/from-toilet-to-tap-water/index.html

The driving question: why don't we have more such plants across Africa and across the world? These are manufacturing jobs with very high positive social and environmental impact. 

Most importantly, if we clean up our waste water and sewage, we know we are eating healthy fish and swimming in safe environments. Blue economy activities we very much enjoy. We also ensure healthy eco-systems that will enable our grandchildren to enjoy the same delicious fish and refreshing swim we love to tell stories about.

More details about Blue Economy activities 

Keynote: Blue Economy - Environmental and Behavioural Aspects Towards Sustainable Coastal Development (2013)

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877042813020685

With respect to innovation, synthetic biology offers exciting opportunities for us to learn how to use microbial life in our acquatic systems to develop new biologically sustainable industrial materials and products. 

Here are some benefits of cellfree biological research 

An in vitro synthetic biology platform for emerging industrial biomanufacturing: Bottom-up pathway design (2018)

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2405805X18300255

"The in vitro synthetic biology platform has some distinctive advantages, such as high product yield, high volumetric productivity, high product titer, high tolerance in toxic environments, substrates, and/or products, easy product separation and easy process control and optimization, and so on. These features make it feasible to become a disruptive biomanufacturing platform"

Check out our early stage research on commercial uses of water hyacinth (see Level 4 section) 

https://www.csti.or.ke/circular-economy-info

Sooo, while we plant trees and hug trees, while we switch to renewable energy, we also need to switch to sustainable water use and improve our Blue Economy activities.  

Think of it this way, fish get their nutrients from the water ecosystems in which they live. What do you want your fish to have eaten before you eat it? 

Images Courtesy of Pixabay.com


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