Elizabeth Gambo, Benjamin Miti and Kenneth Nkandu are three postgraduate students at UNZA in Lusaka, the largest and oldest educational institution in Zambia. The three students are pursuing three individual research projects in the field of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and are supported by WfW in planning and implementing their Master's theses. We are pleased to bring together academic and practice-oriented projects with this advisory and financial commitment.
A functioning drinking water supply cannot be taken for granted
The most important thing to start with: from a global perspective, a functioning drinking water supply cannot be taken for granted. Worldwide, over 780 million people live without safe access to clean drinking water. These people have to travel long distances or wait for long periods of time to get drinking water. In addition, there are risks of water quality or quantity. Water may come from an unsafe source, be polluted, be in short supply or be expensive. Most of these 780 million people live in Southern Africa and Southern Asia. And this is by no means only because there is too little water in these regions. In Zambia, for example, one of the most water-rich countries in Africa, there would be enough natural resources to meet the demand for drinking water. Yet these are often not tapped. Access to water, however, is the basic prerequisite for a healthy life.
Elizabeth's research project assesses the WASH situation in urban and peri-urban health facilities in Lusaka. Benjamin evaluates the accessibility of WASH facilities in selected schools in Lusaka for students affected by disabilities and develops concrete proposals for inclusive WASH facilities in schools. And Kenneth finally examines the impact of WASH services in schools on attendance, dropout rates and enrolment of students in selected schools in Lusaka. WfW believes that supporting these three valuable projects is a win-win situation: The students benefit from funding contracts and support from WfW experts in the WASH field, the university benefits from our practical knowledge and we at WfW can in turn use the research results in our work.
We look forward to continuing to support the ongoing research projects and, almost more importantly, to the research results of the three students, which are expected in December 2022. We are convinced that the results will be very valuable and will not only help to advance WfW projects, but will also have a positive impact on the goal of our work: to ensure universal access to safe and equitable WASH services to improve people's health and well-being.
Kontrollen funktionieren, Massnahmen werden getroffen
Today, Lucerne's drinking water network is around 350 kilometres long and is fed by spring, lake and groundwater. In order to ensure the highest level of water purity, water suppliers such as ewl in Lucerne are primarily engaged in the area of technological and sustainable further developments in water treatment. The case in Lucerne has shown that the most modern water treatment plants do not protect against possible water pollution. It has also shown how difficult it is to find out where exactly and how the polluted water could have entered the drinking water network. In mid-August 2022, it seems a likely scenario that the cause of the pollution will remain unresolved forever. After all, thanks to 500 water samples analysed daily, it was possible to narrow down the source of the pollution to 25 houses within ten days. Somewhere in this street, which temporarily has clean water again thanks to a provisional water connection, the pollution must have entered the water network. This illustrates the complexity of a professional water supply that has grown over decades and is constantly evolving. One thing can be said for sure: Tap water in Switzerland is a safe, well-controlled commodity.