Working with real water, for real people― Dr Doris van Halem, director of the Global Drinking Water programme.
The Global Drinking Water programme supports various PhD and post-doc research projects into different aspects of safe water provision. Van Halem: “Our research focusses on the removal of a wide range of health-based contaminants that are a global challenge, such as arsenic, fluoride, pathogens and antibiotic resistant genes. We combine scientific research in the Waterlab of TU Delft and hands-on field research in a developing country. This has proven to speed up technology development, as well as local end-user engagement and technology adoption.”
Early on in the research process, PhD and post-doc students start working in the countries where the new technologies will eventually be used. This means that they are exposed to local conditions and are stimulated to tailor the new technology within this specific context, accelerating the development of better and more suitable technologies.
The programme is kicking-off with PhD projects on low-cost virus removal with ceramic membranes in Nicaragua, arsenic removal from groundwater in Bangladesh and smart phone participation in rural India. The projects specifically include BSc and MSc Civil Engineering students of both TU Delft and the target countries to strengthen the project and stimulate capacity building. In addition, the programme is investing in a mobile water lab – “a water lab in a suitcase” – because in the field, it’s often very difficult to do good quality water analysis.