Access to running water by the majority of Ugandans living in rural areas is still a dream. As a result, these natives rely on unsafe water from ponds and streams. Unfortunately, some users even share the same water sources with animals.  This exposes them to several health hazards.

Typically, most regions in Uganda receive heavy rainfalls but the storm water (run-off water) is poorly recovered and harvested. Those who attempt to harvest and utilize the storm water dig ditches where it is trapped and cleared by sedimentation. The quality of the water obtained is low thus minimizing its application in addition to the process being slow.

Using scientific and technological knowledge of filtration and adsorption, I came up with an innovation in which such dirty water could be treated. Designed from locally available materials of plastics, clean sand, charcoal and gravel, the unit can be used to filter and provide safe water from the different unreliable sources.  With this innovation, the water harvesting system is improved.

Pictorial diagram of the unit step in the Kyambogo University Chemistry Laboratory.


The unit has a simple operation system. Dirty/unsafe water is poured on the top of multimedia bed filter. The water first penetrates the gravel layer before perforating through the charcoal layer and lastly the sand. Water flows at a decreasing flow rate through the different layers with fastest speed in the gravel layer, leading to the accumulation of the water in the charcoal layer. This is desired because charcoal is the natural purifier adsorbing heavy metals and ions as well as reducing the microbial load.  By the time water percolates through the last layer, it is cleaner and safer.


The project is at prototype/incubation level. Research work started in October 2019 and is still on going. I recently presented the project at the International Engineering Students’ Conference at the University of Nairobi.  Representatives from different universities in East Africa including Makerere and Kyambogo made presentations. By the grace of God, this project presentation emerged as the second best.

Some of the pictures taken while presenting the project in Nairobi

Working on this project has changed my life and perspectives. Among the concepts developed is ‘localized self-sufficiency’. As a chemical-engineering student, I now realize how science, technology and innovation can assist communities to meet their needs by providing solutions that are based on locally available resources. I seek finance to developing the project to its  full potential, so that it can be used to improve the livelihood of our people.

Editor’s Note:

The author and researcher of this innovation, Mark Wilson Kirumira  (0787 342 121/0701 774 069 mark06wils@gmail.com), is a third-year student at Kyambogo University studying Chemical Engineering. In belief of using appropriate science and technology to innovate solutions that improve communities’ livelihood, we commend the student-researcher for financial support to complete the project. We however advise Mark to look around, say to the Directorate of Water Development (DWD) and elsewhere, to discover if such technology does not already exist. It’s not good to duplicate effort. However, there is always a chance to improve and add value to existing filtration systems. Bravo, Mark Wilson Kirumira!

We welcome researchers of other products, which we will publish for free.

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