Client Journey Prof. Dr. Jan Hoinkis, Hochschule KarlsruheFrom wastewater treatment to agroecological practices for African smallholder farmers

Prof. Jan Hoinkis visiting project partners in Kisumu, Kenya

From wastewater treatment to agroecological practices for African smallholder farmers

Client Journey Prof. Dr. Jan Hoinkis, Hochschule Karlsruhe

Prof. Dr. Jan Hoinkis is Professor of Environmental Engineering and Head of the Water Technology Group at the Hochschule Karlsruhe - University of Applied Sciences. His research focuses on sensor-based and energy-optimized membrane filtration techniques in the field of drinking water treatment and wastewater recycling for the development of innovative resource- and energy-efficient processes.

Innovative treatment of drinking and industrial water in China and Bangladesh

Already in 2005-2007, he coordinated his first EU project with the support of Steinbeis Europa Zentrum. The INNOWA project dealt with innovative treatment of drinking and industrial water with partners from Germany, Italy, China and Bangladesh. The membrane bioreactor (MBR) technology researched at the university is a key technology for wastewater treatment and recycling.

Steinbeis Europa Zentrum supported the university in the proposal writing process and was responsible for project management. It also accompanied the dialogue between the culturally very different partners. The Asian partners were trained in Europe in modern, effective and, above all, low-cost technologies for water treatment.

Membrane bioreactors improve water quality in North Africa

In 2010, another joint proposal was successful. Led by Jan Hoinkis, the EU project BioNexGen received 3.4 million euros in funding from the EU; with partners from the MENA countries (Middle East and North Africa). As a result, a new class of membranes was developed for use in bioreactors for wastewater treatment. The process has been patented by Hochschule - Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences and the Institute on Membrane Technology at the University of Calabria, Italy. It exploits the properties of microemulsions (PBMs) to coat commercial membranes so that they have a hydrophilic surface that is very little susceptible to fouling. Here, too, Steinbeis Europa Zentrum assisted the university with project and knowledge management, clarification of intellectual property rights, exploitation of research results and trainings.

Clean water and sustainable fish farming at Lake Victoria

The follow-up project with funding of around 3 million euros was again dedicated to African target groups, this time around Lake Victoria. In order to protect the sensitive ecosystem at Lake Victoria in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania and to secure nutrition and health of the people living there, the Hochschule Karlsruhe - University of Applied Sciences, in collaboration with other partners, developed an efficient, flexible and robust system for wastewater treatment and reuse in fish farming and irrigation. Since October 2018, a demonstration plant has been in operation in the city of Kisumu in Kenya, which is also used for local capacity building through trainings and study visits.

"We like the innovative approach of VicInAqua, which specifically addresses the problems in Kenya and in the other countries around Lake Victoria, Uganda and Tanzania. It is not only about overall technological and environmental progress, but also about proposing an African solution for efficient water reuse and pollution control."

Susan Clare Adhiambo, Chief Fisheries Officer in charge of Kisumu East Sub-County in the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries of Kisumu County in Kenya.

Find out more: Sustainable Fish Farming at Lake Victoria (VicInAqua) - Steinbeis EN (

Steinbeis Europa Zentrum co-designed the EU proposal and supported the coordinator and project partners in dissemination and exploitation of project results, administrative and financial management and project communication.

Agroecological practices for African smallholders

The PrAEctiCe project builds on the results achieved in VicInAqua. It focuses on the transformation to organic agriculture for East African smallholder farmers. Here, Jan Hoinkis aims to demonstrate that organic farming is both sustainable and financially viable. The project will provide a decision support tool for agroecological extension that will facilitate the selection of the most appropriate combinations of agroecological practices.

For the water-energy-nutrient cycle system, integrated systems of fish farming (aquaculture) and agriculture (integrated aquaculture agriculture, IAA) play an important role here. Integrating aquaculture with crop production in mixed cropping systems is key to sustainable agricultural production systems because of the environmental and agricultural added value. The decision support tool is being validated in three Living Labs in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania that focus on circular water-energy-nutrient systems in the context of integrated aquaculture.

„Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum supports us in all organizational and financial tasks related to the EU project - meeting preparation and implementation, reporting, project management and trainings. I really appreciate the competent advice from the project managers at Steinbeis Europa Zentrum.“

Prof. Dr. Jan Hoinkis, Hochschule Karlsruhe

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Dr. Sandrine Doretto
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Dr. Sandrine Doretto

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