Notes from the field

Mzuzu University and Pump Aid Malawi Water Quality Partnership

09/19/2013

Lab operations
Mzuzu University water quality laboratory during field operations (Pump Aid Photo).

From February to April 2013 the Mzuzu University Centre of Excellence in Water and Sanitation, Malawi, and Pump Aid Malawi partnered to study water quality in 339 elephant pumps, a Rope pump model with a housing of cement, throughout areas of Malawi.  In addition to water quality, data was also collected by the field team on the performance of the pumps, community utilization of the pumps, a sanitary survey of the pumps and functionality of Water User Committees.  Water samples were analyzed for total coliform, E. coli, total hardness, total alkalinity, pH and nitrate using Hach field methods. 

Pertinently, the project offered a unique opportunity for real world experience by two Mzuzu University Department of Water Resources Management and Development students on internship for the project in both sustainability and quality of water sources.  Why this project is important is not only for the analytical data but our project was noteworthy for involving the Mzuzu University students as the Centre is running the only publically availability water quality laboratory in northern Malawi, and this partnership with PumpAid allowed the students real-world field experience.  Malawi has one of the lowest levels of University enrollment in Africa.  The Mzuzu University Department of Water Resources Management and Development students were involved in the collection of water samples and GPS data from the field, analysis of water samples and maintenance of a detailed laboratory notebook to document project activities and results. 

Field operations.
Mzuzu University data collection during field operations (Pump Aid Photo).

The Mzuzu University Centre of Excellence in Water and Sanitation opened in 2009 to oversee African water and sanitation research, networking regional water and sanitation work and training of professionals through Mzuzu University.  Our primary objective is to improve the effectiveness of sanitation, hygiene practices, and water supply interventions serving Malawi and the surrounding countries.  Our Centre also participates in applied research, water quality analysis such as the investigation with PumpAid, training, consultancies, outreach programs, and the practical application of research findings. 

For more information on the Mzuzu University Centre of Excellence in Water and Sanitation, Smart Centre Program, please contact Dr. Rochelle Holm at rochelledh@hotmail.com.

Keywords:

Malawi, University, Pump Aid, internship, water quality

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