Friday, August 9, 2013

Summer travels in Ethiopia

For three weeks in July and August, Teshome Yami (PhD student) and Dr. Jim Chamberlain (staff research engineer) traveled in Ethiopia. In the larger cities, they met with current and potential partners in fluoride mitigation - including World Vision, CRS, USAID, Adama University, Oromo Self-Help Organization (OSHO), Dr. Feleke Zewge (of the National Fluorosis Mitigation Project office), Addis Ababa University, DfID, and several governmental Ministry officials. 

Two sisters carry water from a raw water point. The water has not yet been treated, but an electrodefluoridation (EDF) system is being planned and is underway at the site.

Dr. Chamberlain and Teshome visit a remote tapstand that delivers water treated using the Nalgonda technique of coagulation and sedimentation (blue elevated tank in the background).
They also spent time visiting small village and remote installations of community-scale systems that are in place to treat excess naturally-occurring fluoride found in the water. Ideal fluoride levels will be in the range of 0.5 - 1.5 mg/l. Many installed water points in the Ethiopian Rift Valley have fluoride levels that reach 4 - 30 mg/l, causing dental fluorosis at low levels and skeletal fluorosis and impairment at higher levels.  Field water quality tests were done at the sights to measure the effectiveness of these interventions.

Teshome measures the fluoride concentration of water collected from one of several water treatment systems in the impacted areas of the Rift Valley.
Dr. Feng Lai, an OU Mechanical Engineering professor, joined the group halfway through the visit. Dr. Lai is working with a local nongovernmental organization near Mojo (OSHO) to help optimize their bone charring process, including increasing the efficiency of the oven and improving the temperature measurements throughout. In addition, OSHO is hoping that Dr. Lai and his students can develop a new mechanical bone-crushing device that reduces the amount of wastage in the size separation process. 

The teeth of smiling children show visible signs of dental fluorosis, a symptom that may foretell a later, more serious condition - skeletal fluorosis and functional impairment.

Dr. Feng Lai is shown standing in front of one of the famous rock-hewn churches in Lalibela. This monolithic church was carved out of a single red volcanic rock sometime during King Lalibela's reign, 12th - 13th centuries.

This mechanical bone-crushing device is used by OSHO to crush charred animal bones into a proper size for water filtration.

Additional photos and information can be found at the travel blog on the OU WaTER Center's Facebook group page.

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