Simple Smartphone Technology for E.coli Monitoring and Water Safety Planning in Low Resource Setting

WaterAid | Tim Davis from WaterAid, on 02/03/2017 09:54 AEST

The transition to monitoring Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG6) is infinitely more complicated than monitoring the previous Millennium Development Goals. The agreed “safely managed” water service level as outlined by the WHO and UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program requires drinking water sources to be free of priority chemical and microbiological contaminants.

Monitoring water quality in rural and low resource setting is extremely challenging. Water quality monitoring requires extensive technical capacity, expensive supplies and must be completed in the field due to difficulties transporting water samples to testing laboratories.

The expansion of information and communications technology in recent times has meant that mobile phones are more available than toilets in many low and middle-income countries. WaterAid has been using this opportunity to manage and improve water quality in low resource area through the use of mWater, a freely available and open access mobile data collection and analysis platform.

WaterAid Papua New Guinea’s local NGO partner Tenkile Conservation Alliance (TCA) in Sandaun Province, Papua New Guinea. TCA are using mWater to manage their data collection and reporting for E.coli monitoring of rainwater harvesting systems that are used for drinking water by local populations. Water quality monitoring is integrated into the mWater platform through the Aquagenx compartmental bag test (CBT). The CBT contains a chromogenic media which changes colour in the presence of E.coli, providing an easy to read “most probable number” result without electricity or incubation.

WaterAid has trained TCA in how to test the water quality and record the results on mWater technology, along with details of water points and the water point functionality. Based on this information TCA is assisting local villages to improve water quality within their rainwater harvesting systems through regular operations and maintenance, education and point of use treatment through solar disinfection.

The full case study can view within the mWater Dashboard here