We are Laurence Gill and Joanne Mac Mahon from the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering at Trinity College Dublin and we are currently researching an innovative water disinfection system, which uses sunlight to disinfect water. The solar disinfection unit is a low-cost, low-maintenance system, which requires no energy to run, and uses one of the most abundant resources in the developing world, sunshine.
The Civil Engineering Department implemented a successful pilot project in the remote village of Ndulyani, Kenya, in 2008, serving over 600 people. We visited the project site in July 2011, however, and discovered that the widely publicised drought in the region had caused the village water source (a dammed river) to dry up. The system had worked successfully for over one year but the lack of water supply means that the solar disinfection unit can no longer be used and the villagers must make a 14km round trip on foot to collect water.
The villagers want their solar disinfection system up and running again and we are determined to raise the necessary funds to provide an alternative water source in the form of a borehole. This would allow the solar disinfection system to be used again and villagers would have access to safe drinking water. The positive impact in terms of improved health and time saved would be invaluable for the community and they are ready to implement the project with us. We have also tracked down the original project engineer, Colin Price, who has just returned from working in Haiti, and he has been roped into returning with us to help with project implementation. It is planned to implement the project over a 3-4 week period in the first half of 2012.
Laurence and I have both worked previously with rural communities in the developing world, where we witnessed first-hand the problems that lack of access to safe drinking water can cause. We believe that our solar water disinfection system can provide a sustainable solution to the problem of contaminated drinking water, helping to improve the health of isolated rural communities, as well as their prospects for the future. Laurence is so dedicated to this project that instead of receiving wedding gifts when he got married, he asked guests to contribute to funding the pilot project in Ndulyani. Joanne promises to do likewise for another pilot project, if she ever decides to get married!
We very much want you to become involved in this project too. Drilling a borehole to provide an alternative water source in Ndulyani, which will allow the solar disinfection system to be reinstated, will be a major step forward in developing this sustainable and environmentally-friendly water treatment solution. The funds raised will allow over six hundred people to access safe and reliable drinking water and will be money extremely well spent.
Many thanks for your interest in our project.
Dr. Laurence Gill (Department Head)
Joanne Mac Mahon (PhD Research Student)
Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering
Trinity College Dublin