IN-GROUND: Inexpensive monitoring of Groundwater pollution in Urban African Districts


This NERC sponsored international collaboration between researchers in Tanzania and the United Kingdom will develop and test an inexpensive biosensor for the on-site, real time, monitoring of urban groundwater quality. The biosensor will be able to detect water pollution emanating from different sources such as pit latrines. The project will focus on monitoring urban areas, as latrine coverage and the related groundwater pollution affects, proportionally, more people than in rural areas. It is estimated that 70% of urban settlements in Tanzania are unplanned. The problems of urban unplanned areas include lack of centralised sewerage and the inaccessibility of emptying services for onsite technologies.

This leads to increased groundwater pollution in areas where shallow wells are used. According to the World Health Organization, 70% of diseases in Tanzania are water pollution related costing close to US$ 600 million annually. As such, we estimate that proper monitoring of water pollution can trigger increased and appropriate sanitation and water treatment which could lead to Tanzania meeting their Millennium Development Goals. It is expected that the use of a bio-sensing system will also help collect data on the current state of groundwater as well as increase the awareness of the local population in groundwater contamination.

More information about the project is available at:


Workshop Pictures

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Field Work Pictures

Sampling of shallow groundwater wells and deep boreholes to assess water quality in unplanned settlements in Dar es Salaam.




  • NERC


Newcastle University
Dr Sharon Velasquez Orta (Principal Investigator), Chemical Engineering & Advanced Material
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Dr David Werner, Civil Engineering & Geosciences
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