Khar and Partners is a European biotech start-up focused on developing innovative technologies for agriculture and engineering. The Romanian-based team is made up of researchers, pharmacists and agronomic engineers who collaborate with the Institute of Montanology in Cristian. Since 2013, the company has developed three technologies: a hydroponic greenhouse system, a horse feed supplement and a water filtration system.
650 million people across the globe currently live without safe water. The implications of this are severe. Millions die from contracting water-borne diseases, especially amongst children; millions more are blinded, visually impaired or otherwise disabled by the infections and parasites found in unfiltered water. Tackling this problem is a development priority and ensuring universal access to clean water and sanitation has been included as one of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. By 2030, the UN hopes to provide universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all. Technology can be part of the solution.
Problems of unsanitary water become especially acute during humanitarian crises, when access to a clean water supply can be hindered by infrastructural damage, or resources may simply be stretched too thin. The current refugee crisis is a case in point. The world’s 50 largest refugee camps house nearly two million people. Khar and Partners’ team of scientists conducted research in these camps in order to see exactly what solutions were needed in such situations and, as a result, updated their SOWAT water sanitation system to make it more transportable, more robust and easier to use.
When people think of shortages of safe drinking water, they often think of developing countries. But there are similar problems in Europe. In Romania, where Khar and Partners’ are based, half the population lacks access to safe drinking water. This problem is amplified in rural areas where a lack of infrastructure means many rely on polluted wells for water.
Guided by their commitment to local development and working with local communities, Khar and Partners have forged partnerships with numerous local educational institutes and civil society organisations. Having raised 15,000 euros through a local crowd funding initiative, the village of Cornăţel will now have a SOWAT water filtration system installed to provide clean water for 650 residents – showing that you don’t always have to go far from home to make a real difference to people’s lives.