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Treating African water with biotech

A recent EU project has developed methods and strategies for establishing biological water treatment systems in African countries.
Treating African water with biotech
Natural water scarcity, endemic diseases and on-going violence are just a few of the challenges in Africa. These interlinked problems have made water security a major challenge on the continent.

The 'Biotechnology for Africa's sustainable water supply' (WATERBIOTECH) project built on the success of previous research initiatives in the region. It provided know-how and best practices for African countries to sustainably manage polluted water resources using biological systems, including green plants and microorganisms.

Researchers collated and analysed information required for waste management planning and decision making. Low-cost biotechnological practices were assessed and the most practical solutions chosen and adapted to specific regions. In addition, relevant stakeholders were trained to implement the adapted water treatment biotechnologies through a series of workshops and conferences.

A major finding of WATERBIOTECH was that logistical and organisational issues are often the reason a particular water treatment technology has failed. With this in mind, the project produced a guideline and strategy document to help countries implement different water treatment technologies.

WATERBIOTECH outcomes are expected to help reduce the pressure on freshwater resources by shifting the focus to the safe recycling of wastewater. This can replace drinking water in applications that do not require potable water, such as industry, irrigation, toilet flushing and the washing of clothes.

The success of WATERBIOTECH can be seen in the resulting benefits to farmers, providers of sewage treatment services, local authorities, decision makers and communities living in water-stressed areas.

Related information

Keywords

Water treatment, biotechnology, water supply, biological systems, waste management
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