Mapping groundwater quality degradation beneath growing rural towns in Sub-Saharan Africa

Novel methods for understanding contamination and risk factors in shallow urban groundwaters

The problem: Shallow hand dug wells and boreholes in urban areas are potentially at high risk of contamination. Mapping of groundwater contamination and understanding the key risk factors remains a priority.

The approach: In-situ optical fluorescence for tryptophan (a protein waste water marker) and molecular pathogen screening (qPCR), alongside conventional measurements and assessments for groundwater quality surveys during the wet and dry seasons at 50 sites.

Key findings: High groundwater vulnerability in shallow wells irrespective of land use; overall degradation of water quality during the wet season; nitrate contamination in some deeper sites; pumping induced connectivity between shallow and deep GW based on age tracers and organic contaminants; impact of mine waste in some shallow wells in close proximity to waste.

Where? Zambia

Consortium grant? No.

Principal Investigator: Dan Lapworth (British Geological Survey, BGS)

Research Team:

  • Marianne Stuart, British Geological Survey
  • James Sorensen, British Geological Survey
  • Daniel Nkhuwa, University of Zambia
  • Moshood Tijani, University of Ibadan
  • Daniel Read, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
  • Stephen Pedley, University of Surrey

Research Organisations:

  • British Geological Survey (BGS) – Grant NE/L002078/1
  • University of Zambia (UZ)
  • University of Ibadan (UI)
  • Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH)
  • University of Surrey (US)

Find out more:

  • BGS Research highlight:  Real-time monitoring of faecally contaminated drinking water (4 Dec 2020)


  1. I am currently developing a research study on Groundwater quality mapping using GIS, A case study of Lusaka city…I need any available literature on ground water quality research studies which will help me shape my research study. Am
    a MSc student at the university of Zambia, studying GIS & Earth Observation.

  2. Good afternoon Daniel
    I am with Prof Rafig Azzam, who I believe you know, at the 12th Asian Regional Conference of IAEG in South Korea. Please contact me for further information on the Africa Regional Congress holding in Abuja Nigeria. We will be most delighted to have you.

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