International Development

In 2019 Seawater Solutions began a series of seawater farming and restoration projects around the world addressing the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Globally, seawater is on the rise, drought is crippling food production, and our coastal ecosystems are under threat from human activities. We believe that ecosystems-based solutions can help tackle these problems in holistic ways while, as a social/environmental impact enterprise, we understand that solutions in international development must combine social, economic, and environmental benefits in order to succeed. That is why each of our projects focus on the social and economic welfare of the communities that are directly impacted by these climate or environmental threats. We believe that every member of society is a steward of the environment and has a role to play in championing ecosystem restoration. This belief also creates an opportunity for individuals and communities to benefit through these projects, either from skills training and education, jobs, economic activity, and many other SDG targets.

 

In 2020 we aim to launch over 12 projects in the global south with our international partners, directly involving over 10 UN Sustainable Development Goals in the process.  

UN Sustainable Development Goals

Vietnam

Vietnam has become an agriculture powerhouse dominated by small-scale independently owned farms growing a wide range of crops, both on land and in water. However, climate projections for the next century predict drastic changes to Vietnam’s landscape and economy. With seawater levels rising by a national average of 3cm per year and more than 31 million people expected to live below the high tide line by 2050, many of the country’s economic assets and livelihoods are vulnerable. Moody’s Investors service predicts economic assets generating up to 10% of Vietnam’s GDP can be lost as a result of sea level rise, placing the country among the world’s most heavily affected.

We are actively exploring new sites across Vietnam and South Asia. If you are interested in partnering with us, please contact nick@seawatersolutions.org.

Thai Binh site / Vietnam / 2020

Remediation and Biofiltration Vietnam model / Seawater Solutions

Agriculture

The intrusion of saline water deeper inland already affects more than 2.1 million hectares of farmland each year. This year saline water reached more than 70km upriver, causing freshwater shortages for up to 600,000 people. The issue has now become so prevalent that salinity intrusion is now reported in the daily national news – just before the weather. With so many farmers now unable to produce crops, the national government and other multinational organizations are rushing to devise solutions to this emerging problem.

Shrimp Farms

There are more than 700,000ha of land in Vietnam dedicated to shrimp farming – all of which is flooded with saline water by necessity. Our system makes use of the abundant nutrients available in effluent ponds and sludge disposal sites to grow these high-value crops in land that is otherwise unprofitable. Our crops also benefit shrimp farming by cleaning water and removing nitrogenous and phosphorous wastes. Research has found that samphire floating beds remove 1-3g nitrogen per m2 production per day. We hope to use this capability to lower the environmental footprint at shrimp farms while also giving farmers an alternative income stream. 

Rice Farms

Every year rice farmland along the coastline and more than 70km inland of the Mekong Delta (Vietnam’s most productive agriculture region) is affected by salinity intrusion during the dry season. Between January and April 2020, more than 50,000 hectares of rice farm land across the delta have already been damaged.  Causing the vast majority of famers in the delta to harvest early. The national government has already invested more than 22 million USD to mitigate the issue. 

Our crops are not only salinity tolerant but grow naturally in flooded salt marshes and do not require significant changes to a rice paddy system. By introducing halophyte crops to rice farms affected by salinity inundation, farmers will be able to generate valuable alternative income during the dry season, and on degraded or unusable land.

Contact nick@seawatersolutions.org to discuss further.

Nam Dinh site

Last February we launched our first trial site on a shrimp farm in Northern Vietnam. While most shrimp farms designate large amounts of land towards treating water, the farm we're working on is unique, designating more than 70% of its land towards treatment. There is even effluent pond used to clean water after each shrimp production cycle before release into the environment - a feature very few farms in Vietnam have.  

 

Our plan is to use the vast amount of land our farmer uses to treat water to grow our salt tolerant vegetables, both on the pond banks and on floating beds along the water surface. This will not only remove harmful wastes before water is released into the environment, but can allow the farmer to re-use the water for another cycle; and of course allow the farmer to sell produce from land that would otherwise yield none. Conventionally, designating land for water treatment is a cost to a farmer, but with our crops, this land can instead be income.
 

Contact nick@seawatersolutions.org to discuss further.

Our site has 29 containers, allowing us to trial different soil types, seed strains, and irrigation methods / Nam Dinh site  / 2020

Salicornia bigelovii pilot / Nam Dinh site / 2020

Thai Binh site

We opened an additional trial site in Thai Binh province on July 2020. The farm we are collaborating with is unique as it combines a large aquaculture production site with eco-tourism. Allowing us to supply our produce directly to restaurants in the tourism section. There are also a range of other trial projects going on at this site including worm and clam farming which compliments our halophyte production.

Contact nick@seawatersolutions.org to discuss further.

Planting Salicornia seedlings / Thai Binh site / 2020

Trial plot with Salicornia bigelovii and europea seedlings / Thai Binh site / 2020

Market trials

Samples of Salicornia shoots were presented to chefs from 5 restaurants around Hanoi. These were Fabrik, Pepe La Poule, Green Tangerine, JW Marriot, and Intercontinental Landmark.

We are actively exploring new sites across Vietnam and South Asia. If you are interested in partnering with us, please contact nick@seawatersolutions.org.

Slow cooked confit salmon and salicornia with wasabi sauce by Yu Masuda /
 Restaurant Pepe la Poule /  Vietnam / 2020

Squid salad with salicornia by Olivier Genique / Restaurant Fabrik / Vietnam / 2020

Bangladesh

Humanitarian project in the saltpans of Teknaf

 

The Teknaf region features thousands of hectares of salt pans created in the dry season, following where rice paddy is grown during monsoon season. Farmers currently produce 100s of tonnes of salt per hectare per year, however this industry is both financially unsound for farmers and is also destructive to soils long-term, reducing yields of rice in monsoon cultivation. 

 

The large-scale regeneration of these soils by growing halophytes can increase yields, improve organic matter and provide financial resilience to impoverished and vulnerable communities. 


We are partnered with the Centre for Natural Resource Study (NGO) in a project that aims to engage host communities and refugees in and around the camps in order to train and run saline agriculture projects for livelihoods promotion, ecosystem creation (flood and erosion defence), and for employability.

Contact info@seawatersolutions.org to discuss further.

Local community group / Bangladesh / 2020

Saline pilot sites in Bagerhat and Khulna

 

In the Bagerhat and Khulna regions we have launched three farm sites in partnership with NGO’s ICCO and CODEC.

Site 1

On this site the local community faces the challenge of rice fields inundated by rising sea-levels. Creating saltmarsh farms on rice fields in order to supplement the one-harvest rice season with alternative cash crops has the potential to transform this community and could be adapted to other similar sites globally. 

​Site 2

Our focus here is on polluted shrimp farms. Rising seas are destroying arable farming in Bangladesh to the extent that farmers are turning to aquaculture, which in turn pollutes the soil with wastewater from the likes of shrimp. This leads to disease, with former arable land left as toxic pits after only 2 years. Our approach uses integrated aquaculture growing systems where halophytic plants remediate 99% of contaminants, thus avoiding the need to pump wastewater out of the ponds and spreading disease to other farms. The biomass grown can be used to substitute up to 40% of shrimp feed, while also fetching a high price in Dhaka. Importantly, no extra land is needed for this process, it is purely an addition to existing operations without needing to divert land resources. 

​Site 3

Here we are exploring the impact of wetland creation on heavily salinised wasteland. A significant portion of land in the delta regions are left fallow as they are inundated with high salinity water. We are cultivating a range of over 11 species of high salinity-tolerant crops to turn such land into artificial wetlands which remediate the salt out of land, improve soil structure, prevent erosion, and allow for rice cultivation to commence again with much improved soil organic health. Uses include the grazing of livestock on this soil in the dry season, along with harvesting crops for export (dried produce) to international markets.

Salicornia  field / Bangladesh / 2020

Bhasan Char & other Chars

We are currently exploring possibilities of launching a project on Bhasan Char with the intent of creating flood barrier zones in similar ways to mangrove forests, supporting soil stabilisation, wastewater remediation, animal fodder production and the production of highly nutritious superfoods, along with production of export-grade products such as oils for cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. We believe that this approach can alleviate threats associated with settlement of the island in terms of climate-security and livelihoods amelioration.

Contact info@seawatersolutions.org to discuss further.

Malawi

Malawi, a landlocked Sub-Saharan country bordering Mozambique, is particularly susceptible to climate change's negative consequences. The country has a high population growth, rapid deforestation, widespread soil erosion, and an overdependence on subsistence rain-fed agriculture. Furthermore, the increasingly erratic and concentrated rainfall is expected to cause flooding and prolonged droughts, and subsequently, food shortages and crop damage.

 

The region of Chikwawa is especially prone to environmental strains as it is dryer, lower, and more arid than other regions of the country. Salinization in the Lower Shire Valley, likely caused by irrigation and evaporation, threatens the region's already strained arable land resources and vegetation. The area under irrigation development has quadrupled in the country over the past four decades, and water abstraction has increased by approximately the same amount. Beyond subsistence farming, the region's agricultural income, generated predominantly by cotton, tobacco and sugarcane, remains relatively small.

 

The poor quality of the soil makes it unsuitable for many crops, however, this provides for a unique opportunity to engage with, and explore, saline agriculture to both generate economic activity and to preserve environmental resources.

Contact mario@seawatersolutions.org to discuss further.

Stock image provided by Karolina Grabowska

Saline Agriculture for Climate Adaptation in Malawi


For rural communities in Malawi land degradation and the impacts of climate change and natural hazards are key livelihood challenges. The region of Chikwawa is especially prone to environmental strains as it is dryer, lower, and more arid than other regions of the country. Salinity in groundwater and soils threatens the region's already strained arable land resources and vegetation.

 

This project will use saline wells to irrigate fields to grow salt tolerant vegetables and supply aquaculture ponds to grow fish. Our innovation restores degraded land, turning salinized soils into highly profitable and healthy ecosystems without using any freshwater. We do this by using saline groundwater from traditional wells and modern boreholes which have become saline over time, or those that have been dug into deposits of saline water. While these 'saline wells' may no longer be in use, due to their high salinity levels, this project uses them to build ecosystems-based saltwater farms in which nutritious crops and aquaculture are combined in circular production models.

 

Saline Agriculture for Climate Adaptation (SACA) in Malawi follows on from projects led by the team in the last two years in countries like Bangladesh and Vietnam which addresses similar threats, and implements innovative land management practices for the integrated restoration of saline wells to restore degraded land, and create invaluable ecosystems that strengthen the climate resilience of rural communities.

 

This project brings together Challenges Worldwide and Seawater Solutions in a new partnership. Challenges have supported more than 3,000 enterprises, encouraging the development of SME-centred products and services and their work in Malawi includes establishing commercial hubs to better balance supply chains and improve farmers' conditions.

Contact mario@seawatersolutions.org to discuss further.

 
 
 

© 2020 by Seawater Solutions.