Development of a sustainable water management system in areas affected by fluoride contamination in water, soil and food in the African Rift Valley (Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania)

FLOWERED (de - FLuoridation technologies for imprOving quality  of WatEr and agRo - animal products  along the East African Rift Valley in the context of aDaptation to climate change) is a project funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme “H2020 WATER- 5c-2015”, which aims at contributing to the development of a sustainable water management system in areas affected by fluoride contamination in water, soil and food in the African Rift Valley (Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania), thus to improve living standards of its population.

FLOWERED aims to study, test and implement innovative defluoridation technologies for drinking and irrigation water that will mainly operate at small village scale and to develop an integrated, sustainable and participative water and agriculture management at a cross-boundary catchment scale.

On the basis of the complexity of the issue of water de-fluoridation, the proposed scientific approach in FLOWERED is based on a detailed knowledge of the geological and hydrogeological setting that controls contamination of water that constitute the prerequisite for the implementation of a sustainable water management and for the proposal of sustainable and suitable strategies for water sanitation and agricultural system.

Innovative agricultural practices will be assessed, aiming to mitigate the impacts of flouride contamination of water and soil on productivity of selected food and forage crops and dairy cattle health and production. The development of an innovative and shared Geo-data system will support the integrated, sustainable and participative management system.

FLOWERED, focusing on innovative technologies and practices and taking into account local experiences, will implement an integrated water and agriculture management system and will enable local communities to manage water resources, starting from using efficient defluoridation techniques and applying sustainable agricultural practices.

In 2017 and 2018, land cover maps have been realized by Planetek Italia using ESA Sentinel images and, on the basis of this information, FLOWERED GeoDBapp has been created with the purpose to be ready for ground truth data collection and validation in Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia.

These tools allows concretely to locate the water points, and to record the attributes of these water points: photo, depth, type (modern, traditional, solar, etc.). It also records the GPS coordinates of the water point. A specific activity has been dedicated to the collection of information on water use and land use, involving local communities to collect the data on water contamination through the app.

This new application called “GeoDBapp” will allow updating the New Geo database developed by the project. Training sessions are planned within the next weeks in collaboration with CGT-UNISI and OSS.

The integrated approaches improve knowledge for EU partners, local researchers, farmers and decision makers. The Project through the involvement of SMEs will strengthen the development co-innovative demonstration processes as well as new market opportunities.

The overall goals will be pursued through 8 work packages:

  • WP1 Advancing hydrogeological knowledge
  • WP2 Developing mitigation options for fluoride contamination in agriculture  and livestock system 
  • WP3 Developing innovative water defluoridation technologies
  • WP4 Innovative Geo-Data system for knowledge management
  • WP5 Socio-economic Analyses
  • WP6 Dissemination and Exploitation of results and Communication activities
  • WP7 Management
  • WP8 Ethics requirements

The project team.

Three European and four African countries are involved in the project. The international research group includes 14 partners, from academic, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) and Small Medium Enterprises. Coordinated by the Department of Scienze Chimiche e Geologiche, the group includes: Nucleo Ricerca sulla Desertificazione – NRD of Università di Sassari; Centro di GeoTecnologie of Università di Siena; Departament de Cristallografia, Mineralogia i Dipòsits Minerals, Facultat de Geologia (Universitat de Barcelona – Spagna); Institute of Biological Environmental and Rural Sciences (University of Aberystwyth (IBERS-AU) – United Kingdom; College of natural Sciences University of Addis Ababa (AAU) – Ethiopia; Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, School of Science, University of  Eldoret (UOE) – Kenya; Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology (NM-AIST)-Tanzania; Oikos East Africa (OEA) – Tanzania; Observatoire du Sahara et du Sahel (OSS) (International, Intergovernmental Organization operating in Africa’s Sahara-Sahel Region)- Tunisia; Hydro Technical Engineering S.r.l. (HTE)- Italy; Planetek Italia S.r.l. – Italy; D D’Enginy Biorem S.L.- Spain; Geomatrix PLC- Ethiopia.