Smart Water Tech
Allen Chafa, Zimbabwe
Industrial engineer Allen Chafa created Smart Water Tech in response to a 43% increase in cholera cases in Zimbabwe between 2018 and 2020.
The Smart Water Tech’s software sends an SMS notification about deviation in water quality from standards set by the World Health Organisation, enabling a rapid intervention.
Smart Water Tech is a real-time water quality monitoring and control system designed to address poor water quality which results in the spread of waterborne diseases.
Industrial engineer Allen Chafa created Smart Water Tech in response to a 43% increase in cholera cases in Zimbabwe between 2018 and 2020, and 3.5 million fatalities reported annually in Africa due to unsafe drinking water.
Smart Water Tech applies sensors to municipal water treatment at three stages. In the first stage, water is tested before and during flocculation, the process where a chemical coagulant is added to the water to separate specific particles and determine what additives are required.
The water is tested again at filtration stage, and a final time before the water is loaded into tanks for delivery to the community.
Zimbabwe’s municipal water is currently only tested during pretreatment using manual methods that involve taking water samples to the laboratory for analytical testing. Water is often contaminated in-transit to the final destination.
The six sensors in Chafa’s innovation monitor dissolved oxygen, pH levels, temperature, turbidity, hardness and total dissolved solids.
The resulting data determines whether an intervention is required. The Smart Water Tech’s software sends an SMS notification about deviation in water quality from standards set by the World Health Organisation, enabling a rapid intervention. An autonomous control measure is carried out by use of multi-media filters and automated chemical dosing units.
The web-based monitoring of water quality avoids the need for expensive and time-consuming laboratory tests.
Chafa and his team have installed a lab-sized prototype unit at the National University of Science and Technology in Bulawayo, and replicated the concept at three homesteads. In the future, Chafa hopes to develop a biosensor to specifically identify types of bacteria in water, to prevent the need for excessive amounts of chlorine.
“There is a real issue with water service delivery, and contaminated water is still being delivered to consumers. Our product is saving time, money and water. But most importantly we are aiming to save lives. This is a public health issue hindering economic growth, and it is essential for people’s human rights that they know their drinking water is 100% safe.”