The search for a natural solution
World Water Week is the annual focal point for the globe’s water issues.
A new method of water purification developed by a Leeds Beckett team of researchers is pioneering a natural solution that could prove crucial in this area.
Led by Dr Martin Pritchard (pictured) from the university’s School of Built Environment & Engineering, the team identified a plant that grows naturally in various parts of Africa and has properties that can purify water, making it safe to drink.
Dr Pritchard, a Reader in Civil Engineering, said: "The team at Leeds Beckett University, in collaboration with the Polytechnic University of Malawi, have been researching the water quality of shallow wells in Malawi for the past 10 years.
"Data we collected from these studies have shown that about 80 per cent of the wells tested failed to meet the World Health Organization guidelines for safe drinking water.
"Our PhD students then discovered a plant extract that grows wild throughout Malawi and can be used to improve water quality by 80 per cent. This should significantly help to reduce water-related diseases and save lives throughout the developing world."
Joining the fight for global access to clean water is another group of researchers in the School of Built Environment & Engineering. The researchers have produced a revolutionary system to identify broken water pumps in the developing world.
The MANTIS system transmits daily data to supervisory bodies to ensure repairs are made swiftly when water pumps are out of action. It is now being trialled in The Gambia following a successful pilot in Sierra Leone.
Lead researcher Dr Andrew Swan said: "The latest field trials in The Gambia have demonstrated the MANTIS system works and can successfully detect a pump failure.
"We achieved this by using a streamlined monitoring approach that should enable an exceptionally long lifespan compared to other remote monitoring systems under development.
"Ultimately, these monitoring systems offer the potential to rapidly detect broken hand pumps so they can be repaired and people can continue to get easy access to water – even in isolated areas."