Meet Zarah, a Solvay lab technician aiming to put her water filtration skills to good use

Zarah Barourdine has been working at Solvay’s R&I Research Center in Lyon, France for three years. She is a technician in liquid separation processes specializing in filtration for water treatment. With 1 billion people around the world having no access to clean drinking water and projections estimating that by 2025, two-thirds of humanity might face water scarcity, finding new, efficient and cheap ways to filter water is no small issue.

But Zarah chose to specialize in this particular field for personal reasons. Her father is from southern Madagascar, an arid area where inhabitants sometimes have to walk kilometers to access drinking water. “When I arrived in France at the age of 18 for my studies, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, but I had a dream: to help the people of Madagascar access clean water thanks to science,” she says.


Striving for a positive impact

Zarah Barourdine

One day, while in class at university in Lyon, Zarah attended a presentation by a Solvay engineer who had come to explain what kind of work the Group’s local research center did. Zarah was impressed and instantly attracted. “After that, every time I passed by the Research & Innovation center, I thought to myself: ‘one day, I’ll work there’... And now here I am!”
All this time, what Zarah really wanted deep down was for her work to have a positive impact on society. Combining that instinct with her work, she naturally developed the idea of using her expertise in water treatment to create an association for the distribution of drinking water in southern Madagascar, “to bring water to small villages and teach people how to filter their water with cheap and accessible techniques,” she explains. “Unfortunately, poor people in this region prefer digging the ground for gemstones rather than for water. I’m joining forces with my brother, who is my role model, to set up this project.”

The devotion and drive of people like Zarah is what will create a better tomorrow, with chemistry as an enabler for their vision!