University water research to help West Africa


SCOTS researchers are hoping to help villages in West Africa secure safer drinking water through a groundbreaking new filtration process.

University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University are working together on the three year project in Ghana to test the new technique.

It works by lowering dangerously high levels of contaminants and fluoride in supplies using local clay and a membrane filtration.

The process also helps eliminate harmful water-borne viruses and can be powered by renewable energy.

It is hoped the technique will stop the onset of serious health problems such as dental fluorosis and potentially crippling bone disease skeletal fluorosis.

The Edinburgh – Ghana team will treat water from a number of rural areas across Ghana where fluoride, nitrate, uranium and arsenic are known to be potential problems for water supplies.

Researchers will also host seminars for local participants in five cities in West Africa.

An initial field trip, carried out in collaboration with Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi and the University of Cape Coast, will take place over eight weeks, beginning tomorrow  (Thurs).

The excursion forms part of a three-year project funded by a Leverhulme Royal Society Africa Award.

Professor Andrea Schäfer, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Engineering, said: “High levels of fluoride in water used for drinking and cooking can potentially be very harmful to people.

“We hope that our method of removing fluoride, using local resources, will prove suitable for making water supplies safer in communities in Ghana and other areas that are similarly affected.”