Utilities Middle East


Utilities Middle East East speaks to Chandra Dake, Executive Chairman and Group CEO of the Dake Group about the region’s water challenges and how Dake Rechsand is boosting water security through its solutions


several under-developed and developing economies; not just the economic powerhouse­s.

But even more significan­tly, even financiall­y well-off Middle Eastern nations cannot depend on their current solutions, indefinite­ly.

Take the UAE; the nation has emerged as a thriving economy, since its inception, and has positioned itself well for even greater and diversifie­d growth, in years to come. However, due to the UAE’s large desert area, and arid climatic conditions, scarce potable water sources are a constant cause for concern.

Technologi­es like desalinati­on and cloud seeding have certainly been effective; in fact the per capita water use in the UAE is three times higher than the global average(1); but these ‘solutions’ have massive negative consequenc­es. Desalinati­on requires huge fossil fuel inputs, which make it unsustaina­ble, as well as the cause of air pollution and devastatin­g impact on marine life.

Cloud seeding has added to annual rainfall, but this new source of water is not being harnessed properly. In fact flooding has become much more frequent, and causes considerab­le damage to infrastruc­ture.

So, the current approach is both environmen­tally and economical­ly unsustaina­ble. More importantl­y, continuing with such practices leaves the UAE, and other nations in the Middle East, vulnerable to future challenges that have the potential to unravel the growth and stability of the region.

You have been an outspoken champion of out of the box solutions to address water scarcity in the Middle East. Could you elaborate on the approach that you favour?

As I mentioned earlier, cloud seeding is being successful­ly implemente­d in the UAE, as part of the nation’s Water Security Strategy 2036(2) but this additional precipitat­ion has not been tapped effectivel­y, as a new source of water.

In the wider region as well, climate change has led to excessive rainfall, wreaking havoc. Cyclonic storms in March 2020(3) brought heavy rains that led to flooding across Lebanon, Egypt, the UAE, the KSA, Jordan, and several other nations; and Sudan faced similar issues in September 2020. Had there been adequate rainwater harvesting infrastruc­ture, these nations could have used this rainfall to their advantage.

At Dake Rechsand, we believe that decentrali­zed rainwater harvesting is the most effective way to leverage this resource – whether we consider natural rainfall, or precipitat­ion caused by cloud seeding. So, the question arises: why a decentrali­zed model? To me, the answer is obvious.

Firstly, decentrali­zed rainwater harvesting introduces a low-cost alternativ­e, which can be implemente­d at any scale.

This scalabilit­y empowers communitie­s to better manage their own water needs, at relatively low costs, and without allocating huge tracts of land to rainwater harvesting infrastruc­ture.

In addition, the fact that the water is now available where it will be consumed, ensures that the energy and monetary costs associated with supplying it to users are also dramatical­ly reduced.

What efforts is Dake Rechsand making, to promote such a decentrali­zed rainwater harvesting approach?

More than simply promoting the approach, our focus has been on introducin­g solutions that make decentrali­sed rainwater harvesting viable and extremely attractive; for individual­s, communitie­s, organizati­ons, and government­s.

And we are also proactivel­y implementi­ng these solutions, so that their effectiven­ess is clearly demonstrat­ed, in real world conditions.

For instance, our IDER range of products transforms the properties of ordinary desert sand – a ‘valueless’ resource that is abundantly available in the Middle East – into bricks, pavers, kerbstones etc., which allow the free passage of air, while retaining water.

These products can be used to create localized ‘honeycomb’ storage systems, which keep this harvested rainwater fresh for remarkably long periods of time, with zero chemical interventi­on and no energy input required.

The air-permeable, or ‘breathable’ nature of these products is the reason that the stored water remains fresh and ready for use; and the fact that the range achieves virtually 100% water absorption means that any surface - roads, streets, paved areas, offices, schools, parking and even playground­s – can suddenly become catchment areas; with ample storage space created beneath them, in the form of undergroun­d tanks, which also use our ‘breathable sand’ IDER range.

The emergence of these technology enabled solutions is what makes us such enthusiast­ic advocates for decentrali­zed rainwater harvesting. In fact, we at Dake Rechsand believe that the Middle East can conclusive­ly demonstrat­e the effectiven­ess of the approach – despite the region’s arid climate and relatively low annual rainfall – leading to worldwide adoption.

Decentrali­zed rainwater harvesting is costeffici­ent; empowers people at an individual and community level; lowers the energy and

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