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School and Program Updates

School and Program Updates

UIC: Solar-Powered Water Treatment Project Debuts in Kenya

The University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health received a grant from Grand Challenges Explorations, an initiative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to study the expansion and testing of a clean drinking water system in two informal urban settlements located in Kisumu, a city of 500,000 people in Kenya. Dr. Samuel Dorevitch, associate professor at the UIC School of Public Health, principal investigator on the grant, traveled to Kenya this summer to continue working on this project, which was started in 2017.

The water disinfection system uses solar power to produce ozone gas. The gas is then bubbled through water collected from natural or municipal sources to kill germs and make the water safe for drinking. In partnership with the Safe Water and AIDS Project (SWAP), a non-governmental organization based in Western Kenya, Dr. Dorevitch and colleagues have already installed small versions of the system in ten homes in Kisumu’s Kisian Village, where it can disinfect about 40 liters of water a day.

“New and better ways of treating drinking water have to work well in the laboratory, but they also have to be user-friendly and work well in people’s homes,” says Dr. Dorevitch, who is also a fellow of UIC’s Institute for Environmental Science and Policy. “People in Kisian Village who used the solar-powered water treatment system say it’s simple to use and they continue to use it even months after the research ended.”

The new grant money will enable Dorevitch and his group to install much larger systems in Kisumu that can process up to 5,000 liters of water each day for community use.

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