Scientists in Africa lead research for sustainable cities

Mintek hosted the 3rd Stakeholder Workshop for the Leading Integrated Research Agenda 2030 in Africa (LIRA 2030) programme-funded project on 08 February, to discuss a feasibility study into the use of biogas to support decentralised water treatment systems for township communities in Diepsloot, Johannesburg.

The workshop was attended by delegates from the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), City of Johannesburg, University of Johannesburg and Diepsloot Township community representatives.

The study is conducted under the LIRA 2030 in Africa Programme which is under the auspices of the International Science Council (ISC) and the Network of African Science Academies (NASAC), and is funded by the Swedish International Development and Cooperation Agency (SIDA).

The study led by Mintek, is being conducted in partnership with the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and Copperbelt University (CBU) of Zambia.  Part of the study is also being conducted for the Chambisi Township in Zambia. The project seeks to find sustainable solutions through collaborative research, to address water challenges encountered in fast growing township communities in South Africa and Zambia.

Speaking on the research commissioned thus far, Mintek Principal Scientist and Research leader for the project, Dr Keneiloe Sikhwivhilu said “The study is looking at abstracting biogas from a number of waste materials such as a mixture of food waste and municipal wastewater (i.e. sewage), and using this as a source of energy to treat water for human consumption. As energy is the driving cost for water treatment plants, renewable energy holds promise for a reduction into the cost of water treatment and supply, making drinking water affordable to supply to the communities. Additionally, with the water scarcity challenge experienced in South Africa, alternative water sources need to be considered as possible options. Thus, the project also delves into the potential use of water reclaimed from municipal wastewaters, for possible potable and/or non-potable reuse for the townships.”

Sikhwivhilu hopes that the study will soon yield solutions that can be implemented in the two townships, and that the lessons learnt from the study can be used as a base-line in other cities within Southern Africa to improve the lives of township communities.