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Water Research


The importance of providing safe drinking water to underprivileged communities in South Africa and the African continent cannot be underestimated.

A large number of South Africa’s rural communities and informal settlements are located near industrial areas. In most instances, the water to which the communities have access is heavily contaminated, resulting in water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea and cholera being widespread. The provision of clean water, particularly to rural and arid areas, is a real and serious challenge.

Personal mobile water treatment

The Water and Health Research Centre  has developed a unique low-co​​st water bottle enabling anyone to treat available water from streams and dams to safe drinking standards, while they’re walking to work or school. The concept is suitable for disaster relief operations. Dr TG Barnard leads the centre’s research within the Faculty of Health Sciences.

Faster, more accurate tests for water-borne diseases

The same group has developed much faster and much more accurate tests for diarrhoea-inducing E. coli bacteria in drinking water, reducing time for advanced results by days.  The versatile single-step m-PCR test for E. coli strains in water is already used by industrial partners to make better-informed decisions about drinking water resource management.

See more about the rapid tests here.

Currently, the group is developing a mobile water testing lab designed to be deployed within hours whenever water quality management decisions need to be taken quickly, as well as during disaster relief operations.

Removing organic pollutants

Nanotechnology has the potential to deliver affordable and effective solutions for water purification and waste water treatment, providing access to safe drinking water to millions of people. Organic pollutants in drinking water include potentially toxic trihaloethylene, endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) and medications.

The Water and Health Research Group within the Department of Applied Chemis​​​try, Faculty of Science, focuses on removing organic pollutants from water. In particular, the group investigates the use of nanoporous polymers for pollutant removal and the use of nanostructured membranes for water treatment.

See more on how a nanotechnology research project benefits rural schools h​ere.​

Contact us

To contact our development staff, follow this link.

You can contribute toward life-giving research

We invite you to contribute towards this water research. Your gift, be it R50 or R500, contributes towards potential improved health and living conditions for millions of people in South Africa.

Tax Benefits

You can dedicate a portion of the taxes you pay to UJ Water Research. To see more, follow this li​nk​.

Ways of giving

You can give using an EFT or a credit card.​