WETS is an interdisciplinary research cluster drawn from across Leeds Beckett University with a common focus upon water issues within developing regions of the Global South. The cluster is currently engaged in research projects across Africa and South America.
Our team contains academics and researchers with interests in the following areas:
Our research activities focus upon some of the key current water- related challenges and issues in developing regions of the Global South, for example:
Many communities are served by local water infrastructure that is poorly functioning, or has fallen In to a state of disrepair; this can force these communities to use unprotected water sources, and increase their exposure to a range of water-related diseases
Many community water sources are of poor, or unknown, water quality
Many communities in developing regions live ‘off-grid’ in terms of access to mains water and electricity, but still have access to mobile phone networks
AGUASOCIAL is a 5-partner network between the Universita degli Studi Roma Tre (Italy), Leeds Beckett University (UK), the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (Spain), Universidade Federal do Para and the Universidade do Estado do Amazonas Fundao (Brazil). The AguaSocial project is due to receive Euro 350,000 of funding over 4 years, to explore Social Innovation in relation to the Water Sector across Brazil’s Amazon region.
This EU funding will facilitate a researcher exchange program, with 26 months of visits by Brazilian academics to Leeds Beckett University, and 24 months of visits by Leeds Beckett staff to Brazil.
Many rural communities are served by water pumps that are broken, or deliver poor quality water. Conventional methods for both operational, and quality, monitoring require regular site visits to remote locations, which can be costly and time consuming. These factors may limit the amount of monitoring undertaken in the field. Telemetry based monitoring techniques could help overcome some of these problems.
Work is underway to develop low cost appropriate telemetry tools for monitoring both the post-construction performance and water quality of remote water points in developing regions.
This area of research is the focus of an on-going PhD study at Leeds Beckett University, and of collaborative investigations between the University and Environmental Monitoring Solutions (EMS). These collaborations have benefited from Innovate UK funding.
Research is underway in Gambia to assess the merits of a pilot study that combines an off-grid recharging hub with a community water point. The modus operandi of this arrangement involves local users paying a small fee to recharge portable smart-battery packs (which can then be taken home to power mobile-phones, lighting, etc.).
It is intended that a proportion of the income generated by this enterprise will be retained, and used to fund the on-going maintenance costs of the recharging hub and the local water infrastructure.
This area of research is the focus of an on-going DEng study at Leeds Beckett University, and of collaborative investigations between the University and Mobile Power.
Approximately 50% of illnesses in Malawi are solely due to water-related diseases with only 37% of Malawians having access to safe drinking water.
Previous monitoring of the quality of water from boreholes and shallow wells has been irregular. Information on seasonal water quality changes in shallow wells used by rural communities in Malawi has generally been lacking. Staff from the cluster have been involved in research to develop a water quality inventory for 52 shallow wells from six districts in Southern Malawi.
Over 2,700 samples were analysed for chemical, microbiological and physical contamination. Water quality results indicated that shallow well water is heavily polluted with both total and faecal coliforms. The pollution level was higher in the wet season especially soon after the on-set of the rains, compared to the dry season.
Poor communities may experience social exclusion in many ways including access, or lack of access, to technologies that could improve their lives.
Technologies exist within a social and political setting, and their impacts, and outcomes, can be shaped by both ‘technical experts’ and local stakeholders. Where poor communities do have access to useful technologies they often do not have agency over the way these are designed or used, such as the way in which water is shared, distributed and managed. Such factors may influence the uptake and impact of a seemingly promising technology.
The cluster is engaged in on going research to explore the key processes that influence whether, or not, water related technologies are implemented; and what influence local users can exert over the design and operation of such technologies.
The WETS cluster is a multi-disciplinary network which comprises the following staff
Links to partner sites
Project details on Cordis pages
Collaborative partners on pilot study of an off-grid recharging hub & community water point
Collaborative partners on appropriate telemetry project
Civil Engineering Research Facility @ Leeds Beckett University
Leeds Sustainability Institude