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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/P028527/1
Title: IMAGINE: INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGIES FOR RAPIDLY SURVEYING, MAPPING AND COMMUNICATING WATERBORNE HAZARDS
Principal Investigator: Werner, Dr D
Other Investigators:
James, Mr PM Davenport, Dr RJ Mgana, Dr S
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Oxford Nanopore Technologies
Department: Civil Engineering and Geosciences
Organisation: Newcastle University
Scheme: GCRF (EPSRC)
Starts: 01 May 2017 Ends: 30 April 2020 Value (£): 477,153
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Water Engineering
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
17 Mar 2017 EPSRC GCRF 1 Meeting C - 17 March 2017 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The United Nation's Sustainable Development Goal 6.1 seeks to achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all. While global access to improved drinking water sources has been expanding over the past decades, it is still lacking in many places, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. Furthermore, not all improved drinking water sources are safe. Water quality monitoring at the point of use is quintessential for the provision of safe water.

This project will develop innovative technologies for rapidly surveying, mapping and communicating waterborne hazards. Newcastle University in the UK will team up with Ardhi University in Tanzania, for the method development with subsequent field testing in Dar es Salaam, with the aim of establishing all methods and skills in the partner country Tanzania by the end of the project. The project will develop portable gene sequencing equipment as a versatile technology to comprehensively assess microbial water quality within a matter of hours. It will embed this molecular microbiological method with other field deployable methods for assessing water quality, including inexpensive screening methods, to derive cost effective and reliable surveying strategies.

The water quality assessment methods will be integrated with digital technologies for data storage in a remote database, and immediate data curation, interpretation and visualization, firstly to assist surveyors with their field work, and secondly to make surveying data accessible to the public. A hazard communication tool will be developed with location aware, multi-platform hazard maps, augmented by in-app links to a repository of contextual information, including health impacts, practical advice, observational metadata and WHO information. The development will be "mobile-first" such that designs fit a variety of mobiles and tablets. The use of CSS and modern browser technology will ensure that the same applications can be deployed automatically to multiple devices with the content being dynamically selected (or reduced) depending on the device capabilities.

The water quality surveying equipment and methods, together with the associated digital technologies, will be field-tested in four surveys of increasing complexity of different water sources in unplanned settlements in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. According to UNICEF, 46% of Tanzanians still lack access to improved drinking water sources. Waterborne diseases are endemic in Tanzania and a major disease burden, as evidenced by the major cholera outbreak in Dar es Salaam and other Tanzanian regions in the summer and autumn of 2015, which affected thousands of people. In this project, local stakeholders like the Dar es Salaam Water & Sewerage Authority, school teachers and community representatives will be engaged in the technology development and testing, helping in particular with the identification of context-appropriate, useful hazard communication methods. Multiple visual waterborne hazard display options will for example be scrutinized by these stakeholders to explore their social acceptability as well as easy interpretability and usefulness. Ardhi University researchers will assist with the translation of key contextual information into local languages.

The methods and technologies developed in this project will not only facilitate water quality monitoring and communication in low income countries like Tanzania, where waterborne diseases are a significant health burden, but they will also facilitate the emergency response to natural or human-made disasters such as major earthquakes, the displacement of people by conflicts, or terrorist attacks affecting water supplies.
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Organisation Website: http://www.ncl.ac.uk