October – November: Two installations of Blue Tap doser
Partners: FundiFix Ltd and the University of Oxford REACH Programme
Installation 1: Mumo wa Ikaaie - borehole, pump fuelled by generator. ~12m3 per day. Demand is higher due to the ongoing drought meaning that some of the nearby surface water has dried up.
Uses: drinking, cooking, livestock, washing
Installation 2: Ivonangya – solar powered pump from a borehole. ~6m3 per day. Uses: drinking, cooking, livestock, washing
Total people served by both installations: Approx. 600
The first days of this pilot trial were focused on installing our technology at the two sites. FundiFix’s skilled technicians took on the task with ease - despite having to die cut threading into galvanized iron pipes (burly work!).
During the trial we noticed that the jerry cans being used by people to transport their water could be a potential source of recontamination. We ran some tests and found that by increasing the quantity of chlorine we could mitigate the risk of recontamination. Key features of our technology made this possible; the ability to adjust the dose of chlorine in the water and highly precise dosing (these benefits also mean the lowest effective dose of chlorine can be used, improving the taste of the water and leaving the appropriate free residual level to protect from recontamination.)
A FundiFix technician installing the Blue Tap chlorine doser in Kitui, Kenya
“Where does Blue Tap get all the chlorine from?” - a question we are often asked.
Although sodium hypochlorite (chlorine) is found all over the world, ensuring the quality is suitable for use in water purification can be tricky. We don’t want to risk supply chain issues jeopardising the provision of water… so we make it ourselves.
With a lot of help from our partners FundiFix, we tested the logistics of decentralised chlorine production from the electrolysis of brine. For this trial we used the WATA machines developed by the Antenna Foundation. We chose WATA as they allow for alterations to the chlorine concentration which proved to be very helpful for this trial.
There are always unforeseen situations in field trials (which is why they’re so vital). Kitui County is currently suffering drought with much of the surface water and shallow wells having completely dried out. Plus, the community needs the water for washing, cooking and livestock, as well as drinking. Consequently, the borehole kiosks that FundiFix look after are in much greater demand than usual and our doser had to purify significantly more water than we were expecting. Through this we’ve learnt that it will be worth modifying our technology to enable for more purification before having to refill with chlorine.
There were some funny stories along the way too. Notably, Tom (CTO) was frequently mistaken for a woman. His daily commute involved being cat-called by some inquisitive motorbike-taxi drivers who just wanted to know ‘who is this beautiful lady!?’.
On a serious note – Blue Tap is immensely grateful to FundiFix and the REACH programme for their partnership. Mary and Martin, the water quality officers at FundiFix, are particularly deserving of our deepest thanks, they not only supported us with technical work, but also looked out for us and welcomed us into this new area. We’re very excited about our future work in Kenya.