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Low cost water test for developing countries - a preparatory study

Final Report Summary - AQUATEST (Low cost water test for developing countries - a preparatory study)

The AQUATEST project aimed to fulfil the following objectives:
1. to assess the needs of developing countries and disaster response agencies for microbiological testing of drinking water;
2. to fully develop and implement a low-cost water test, along with the associated management systems, data collection processes, necessary communications and reporting, so as to facilitate monitoring of access to safe drinking water in developing countries;
3. to establish a network of specialists to respond to the proposal assessment and specification needs;
4. to develop a network of stakeholders interested in the use of a low-cost water test and; finally,
5. to demonstrate a strong business case for funding the test commercial development and to submit a comprehensive grant application based on the prepared specification.

Firstly, the needs to which such a microbiological test would respond were defined, through research for end users and review of current conditions. Various design approaches and suitable reagents were evaluated as part of the development of an innovative test kit, which relied on self-incubating consumables. In addition, a management system was established to facilitate the monitoring of access to safe drinking water in developing countries, based on experience from existing sites. Finally, the project served as a basis for ensuring funding and follow-up activities, which were necessary for the preparation of an applicable version of the proposed test.

Numerous dissemination activities, such as organisation of workshops, participation in conferences and preparation of website and publicity material were undertaken in order to communicate AQUATEST results. Exploitable outcomes included a single-use water testing device prototype, a multiple-use water testing device conceptual design and specifications and open source software for the management of water quality monitoring data.

Both devices could be operated without requiring electricity and specialised personnel, thus enabling professionals and community groups to undertake their own water tests in the field. In addition, the demonstration software proved the potential functionality of a reporting system, based on mobile phone technologies. The software was run either locally, on a desktop computer, or over the internet. Finally, it was estimated that, after necessary optimisation, all products could be applied by the water supply and public health sectors of numerous countries.

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