Improving access to safe drinking water prospection for low-fluoride sources of groundwater

Groundwater fluoride mitigation in the Ethiopian Rift Valley.

The problem: High levels of fluoride in groundwater cause dental and skeletal fluorosis in those who consume it. It is necessary to find ways to mitigate this problem for the estimated 8m people who are exposed to it in Ethiopia alone.

The approach: Hydrogeological studies of fluoride occurrence. User surveys and financial analyses of alternative mitigation strategies.

Key findings: Fluoride in groundwater is influenced by surface water/groundwater interactions, geothermal inputs and aquifer geology. Mitigation options include safe sourcing (locating primary low-fluoride sources); alternatives are defluoridation and multi-village piped water schemes – the former dependent on NGO capacity and subsidy and community involvement, the latter on investment, infrastructure and professional management. Of the options, defluoridation is the least sustainable.

Where? Ethiopia

Consortium grant? No.

Principal Investigator: Dr Pauline Smedley, (British Geological Survey, BGS)

Research Team:

  • Jennifer Bearcock, British Geological Survey
  • Lorraine Field, British Geological Survey
  • Seifu Kebede, Addis Ababa University
  • Frank van Steenbergen, MetaMeta Research
  • Asefa Kumssa Afeta, MetaMeta Research

Research Organisations:

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