A visit to Tanzania as part of the collaboration between WRC-TAU and Engineers Without Borders
The Tanzanian project of the "Engineers Without Borders" (EWB) group, recently with WRC-TAU, has been running for 5 years in a group of villages in the northern Tanzanian Babati District in an effort to help find sustainable solutions to make drinking water accessible to the region's residents.
The main problem in this area is extreme concentrations of fluoride in the groundwater, which cause dental fluorosis and skeletal fluorosis. The problem is prevalent and widespread in almost all of the area's residents as spots on the teeth and sometimes even skeletal deformities. Compared to the World Health Organization (WHO) standard, which has determined the maximum allowable concentration of fluoride in drinking water to be 1.5 mg/L, analyzed groundwater extracted from local wells has shown fluoride concentrations of 10–80 mg/L!!.
Our solution, which has been implemented in several local schools located in rural areas, is rainwater-harvesting systems that provide clean water for at least half a year at no cost—a solution that is absolutely sustainable. To date, systems have been installed in 4 schools, providing water for more than 2,000 children and teachers.
As part of the project, we are working in full cooperation with the local communities, teaching the importance of clean water consumption, maintaining hygiene and transferring the knowledge for construction and independent maintenance of the water-collection systems. In addition, we are working with home-grown researchers to teach, train and instruct the local water laboratory staff at the Arusha Technical College to conduct chemical, physical and biological analyses, supporting our water projects in the nearby villages through a comprehensive and continuous monitoring system.
For this purpose, a delegation from the Hydrochemistry Laboratory of the WRC-TAU, led by Prof. Dror Avisar and together with Dr. Igal Gozlan and Aviv Kaplan, arrived to Tanzania in early February 2019. We gave a 4-day theoretical and practical course, enriching the laboratory staff with various analytical chemistry tools.
At the end of the course, an agreement was signed between EWB TAU branch, including the WRC, and the rector of Arusha Technical College, regarding the commitment to provide the local population with laboratory services for monitoring the quality of their drinking water.
Further on, we aim to expand the project to domestic solutions for water storage and to implement treatment technologies for the removal of fluoride from the drinking water prior to intake and consumption.