AfriWatSan - Sustaining low-cost, urban water supply and sanitation systems in Africa


AfriWatSan was a 7-year capacity-strengthening (2015-2021) and cross-disciplinary research collaboration tackling the fundamental challenge of sustaining low-cost water supply and sanitation systems that conjunctively use the subsurface as both a source of safe water and a repository for faecal waste.


AfriWatSan is funded with UK aid from the UK Government through the Royal Society – DFID Africa  Capacity Building

Principle Investigator
Prof. Daniel Olago

Developing the scientific evidence to inform policies sustaining on-site water supplies and sanitation systems in urban Africa Capacity-strengthening based on the the identified skills gaps of individuals and institutions Developing practices to sustain low-cost, on-site water supplies and sanitation systems in urban Africa


What are the relationships among rainfall, land use, pit latrine/septic tank densities, and groundwater quality?
Does the presence of on-site sanitation serve to reduce or worsen the risk of contamination of groundwater sources?
What are the aquifer characteristics and how do these influence the mobility of faecal contaminants?
What is the safe separation distance required to reduce substantially the risk of contamination of production boreholes?
How vulnerable are our aquifer systems to faecal contamination/pollution and extreme climate events?
Does observed contamination increase incidence of diarrhoeal disease and/or malnutrition in infants observed through stunting?
How might groundwater use and improved faecal waste management reduce the magnitude of groundwater contamination?

• to map and characterise urban aquifers, water-supply well catchments, and on-site sanitation systems
• to assess the vulnerability of urban aquifers and water-supply wells to microbiological and chemical faecal pollution
• to quantitatively assess the impact of different low-cost, water supply and on-site sanitation strategies on urban groundwater and human health
• to develop with stakeholders implementable, evidence based strategies for sustaining low-cost water supply and sanitation systems in African cities

Project Status