12th October 2021: Scientists have developed a reliable new method to monitor the risk of contamination in drinking water which gives immediate results, enabling global communities to respond rapidly and help reduce their exposure to waterborne diseases.
Drinking water contaminated with human and animal faeces is consumed by at least two billion people worldwide. This pollution is responsible for outbreaks of waterborne diseases that remain common, even in high-income countries.
For decades, standard approaches to test water supplies have used bacteriological indicators of faecal contamination, most commonly thermotolerant coliform bacteria known as TTCs. Analysis of these indicators requires use of sterile equipment and culturing techniques, which practically limit the frequency of water sampling so that contamination events can be missed. Time lags of 1 or 2 days before results are returned mean that people can already have been exposed to the faecal contamination.
A new study, published this week in Water Research by a collaborative team from Makerere University, the British Geological Survey, and University College London, shows how a technique exploiting the fluorescent properties of microbiological materials in water provides an easy-to-use method to test for faecal contamination.
Co-author Jacintha Nayebare, PhD student at Makerere University said, “In-situ fluorescence spectroscopy provides an instantaneous assessment of faecal contamination allowing rapid feedback to consumers that could reduce exposure of consumers to faecally contaminated drinking water.”
The team examined changes in water quality over a 14-month period from 40 sources supplied by groundwater in Lukaya Town of south-central Uganda. The results show not only that in-situ fluorescence provides an instantaneous measure of faecal contamination but also that it is a more reliable measure of the risk of faecal contamination than TTCs.
Co-author, Dr. Robinah Kulabako from Makerere University’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering said, “this rapid, robust method of monitoring the risk posed by faecal contamination has enormous implications in Uganda not only for untreated water sources such as wells and springs thereby, enabling communities to respond rapidly to contamination events but also for low-cost, continuous monitoring of piped water supplies.”
This research builds upon field studies conducted by the team in a network of urban observatories in Senegal, Kenya and Uganda under the AfriWatSan project, supported by The Royal Society and DFID, as well as research in the UK, India, and Zambia funded by Natural Environment Research Council.
Lead-author, James Sorensen from the BGS and UCL said: “the ability to test in-situ fluorescence as an indicator of faecal contamination risk in a wide range of environments and conditions has greatly improved both the evidence base for this method of water quality monitoring and our understanding of what fluorescence observed in water means.”
MAPRONANO Short Course in AI, ML & Bioinformatics
The African Center of Excellence in Materials Product Development & Nanotechnology (MAPRONANO ACE), College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT), Makerere University in partnership with the Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI)’s African Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Data Sciences (ACE), Tel Aviv University, Israel, the Colleges of Health Sciences (CHS) and Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS) and Teesside University, UK invites applications for the Short Course Training in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and Bioinformatics.
The course will be run virtually from 4th to 7th October 2021
Please submit all applications to: ace[at]idi.co.ug, mapronanocedatmak[at]gmail.com, bmujuni7[at]gmail.com including a One Page motivation statement indicating why you are interested in attending by 27th September 2021
Call for Scholarship Application: CAMA Post-grad Research Assistantship at CEDAT
The Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences (HKA) Germany, Makerere University, University of Nairobi (UoN) and Mekelle University (MU) Ethiopia have started a 4 year R&D project “Collaboration for Active Mobility in Africa-CAMA” under the program “Partnerships for sustainable solutions in sub-Sahara Africa“. The Project which is being funded by both the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), aims to better capture the requirements of the pedestrians and cyclists and to illustrate their needs using digital surveys and crowd mapping approaches.
To facilitate the development and uptake of tailor-made solutions to promote active mobility, the project will utilise learning alliances (bringing together researchers, community representatives, decision makers and experts from the field) to prepare real-life experiments (living labs) and test innovative solutions. To achieve the aforementioned objective, the project intends to utilize some of the resources to recruit a PhD Student who will double as project admin for the project.
In this regard, the CAMA Uganda project is pleased to invite Ugandans to make applications for a the Post Graduate Research Assistantship Position at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT), Makerere University. Under this program you will be required to register as a PhD. Student at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (focusing on Non Motorised Traffic), which is subject to meeting the admission requirements of Makerere University. You will also be required to undertake Administration and Research project support.
The deadline for application is 8th September 2021.
How to Apply
Interested candidates can submit the following (i) up-to-date curriculum vitae/resume (of no more than 3 pages) in pdf (ii) supporting testimonials (iii) a one-page letter outlining their interest and motivation while highlighting a potential challenge in Non Motorised Traffic.
By email to camauganda[at]gmail.com and copied to civil[at]cedat.mak.ac.ug
Only applicants who meet the minimum requirements will be notified.
Minister Monica Musenero Unveils Locally-made Diesel Engine
By Betty Kyakuwa
It was a show of innovations geared towards mechanisation of farming processes as the Minister for Science, Technology and Innovations, Dr. Monica Musenero, launched locally made engines today August 19, 2021.
A team of researchers from the African Centre of Excellence for Material science and nanotechnology (MAPRONANO) partnered with artisans from Kevoton Engineering, to design and assemble a diesel engine, the first of its kind in Uganda.
It is a single cylinder 4 stroke engine with 13 horse power and consumes 1 litre of fuel per hour. The engine is a water-cooled and therefore does not heat up.
The engines are able to run a generator and a water pump to facilitate irrigation on farms. The generator, is single phase and can therefore be used to power home appliances and small workshops.
According to Mr. Mubiru Rogers of Kevoton Engineering, work on the engines started in 2017, but they were not able to make much progress until 2019 when they partnered with MAPRONANO ACE. The centre of excellence was then able provide training and technical advice, designing and student attachments to the project.
The Minister commended the MAPRONANO team, led by Prof. John Baptist Kirabira, for various innovations that the team in churning out, which included a sanitizer made in Makerere, solar panel slasher, and a mini tractor.
Dr. Musenero challenged researchers to have a mindset change and also change the pedagogy to reposition theory to practical works. “We need to teach the students knowing that they are going to design and develop an engine or a brake system,” Dr. Musenero emphasised. She encouraged innovators to ensure their products do not stay on the selves, saying the biggest role of science and innovation is economical. The Minister said, for this reason, PRESIDE which she chairs focused on equipping laboratories in universities so as ensure that scientists receive the facilitation that they require. “Research is like a river which needs an outflow and the Ministry is here to provide that outflow,” she said.
She advised the university to prioritise certain areas of research when it comes to grants instead of awarding small grants to different projects which only end up being a drop in the ocean. Dr. Musenero thanked the President for his continued support and belief in science and technology.
The minister advised that the prototypes be refined so that they are genderised to allow women to be able to operate the generator and water pump.
The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, called on the minister to support the introduction of an innovation park in Makerere University, saying the park would be able to spinoff companies. Giving an example of Instabul University, the Vice Chancellor said the university has been able to produce 300 companies over the last one year, saying Makerere University should be supported to do the same.