MSABI wet season Namawala sampling

MSABI is currently completing the wet season sampling from 90 water points in Namawala. Namawala is located 36 km south west of Ifakara and has a mix of improved water points (bores with pumps and open well conversions) and unimproved water points (open wells). The aim of the research is to compare the water quality across the water points and document the impact that pit latrines and other sources of faecal contamination have on the water quality. Ultimately this research will form the basis for guidance to the community of the impacts of their pit latrines on their water quality. The high levels of faecal contamination in the unimproved water points currently puts the community at high risk of outbreaks of cholera and typhoid fever.
The road to Namawala - just a little muddy.

A good example of a failed donated pump in Namawala. The pump has obviously stopped working so the community has cracked the concrete cover and converted the water point back into an open well.
Sampling from an open well. The water table at this point was only 0.5 m below the top of the well.

During the wet season there is a lot of sub-surface water flow. Here you can see water flowing into the open well through the well shaft. This sub-surface water is frequently heavily contaminated with faeces from the nearby pit latrines.

You can see that the water from the well pictured above is very turbid.

At time of sample collection physical parameters (pH, temperature and salinity) are measured.

A days worth of water samples collected and stored in a chilled esky for transport back to the lab.


Novatus Mwangeta (field worker) riding back to Ifakara with the esky on the back of his motorbike. 

Selection of water samples from the days sampling. You can clearly see the difference in physical water quality. The majority of households in Namawala drink this water without any treatment.

In the lab we measure the turbidity of the samples which helps determine what serial dilutions are needed prior to processing the samples for microbiological quality.

Microbiological quality is determined using membranefiltration for Escherichia coli (blue colonies) and total coliform (red colonies). These samples are an interesting example of how improved water points protect against faecal contamination. Both samples physically appear the same in that they have low turbidity and look 'clear'. However the sample at the top (Tanira pump #89) has no evidence of faecal contamination (E. coli). But the unimproved water point (open well #88) has 1000's of E. coli which is evidence of direct faecal contamination.
MSABI debriefs all households on the results of the water quality from their individual water points. They are then given advice on the degree of risk that their water point presents and how they can treat their water prior to drinking it to make it safe.