African SNOWS Project Uses CBT Kit for E. coli to
Assess Drinking Water Quality in Multiple African Countries

Scientists Networked for Outcomes from Water and Sanitation (SNOWS) is funded by the Wellcome Trust through its African Institutions Initiative. The aim of SNOWS is to build African capacity for interdisciplinary research in water supply, sanitation and environmental health, bringing together universities from across the continent, with research active universities in the North. The Consortium partners include Egerton University (Kenya), Kwame Nkruma University of Science & Technology (Ghana), London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (United Kingdom), Mbarara University of Science and Technology (Uganda), Tshwane University of Technology (South Africa), University of Copenhagen (Denmark), University of East Anglia (United Kingdom), University of Gezira (Sudan) and University of Venda (South Africa). 


The University of Venda in South Africa (UniVen) was the lead investigator on a project to strengthen capacity and knowledge management to improve waterborne disease control in rural and peri-urban areas in South Africa, Gabon, Sudan, Ghana, Kenya and Uganda. The aim of the project was to assess drinking water quality in each of the countries and to use a bacteriological water quality test that was easy to use in the field in low resource areas. Individuals and partners involved with this project were:


Country University responsible for data collection and analysis Country Team Team leader in
each country
South Africa University of Venda (UniVen) Prof N Potgieter
Dr AN Traore
Mr RL Mbedzi
Prof N Potgieter
Gabon University of Venda (UniVen) Prof N Potgieter
Dr AN Traore
Mr RL Mbedzi
Prof N Potgieter
South Africa Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) Dr MI Mokgobu
Dr LS Mudau
Mr TA Molaudzi
Dr S Mudau
Ghana Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) Dr HMK Essandoh
Mr Amadu Salifu
Mr Kofi Akodokwa
Prof SN Odai
Dr HMK Essandoh
Uganda Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) Prof RO Apecu
Mr L Ampaire
Dr F Bagenda
Dr Edgar Mulogo
Kenya Egerton University Dr JO Othira
Mr RP Kirianki
Dr Edward Muchiri
Dr Edward Muchiri
Sudan University of Gezira Prof M Ahmed
Prof EB Eltigani
Mr MAAE Jaafer
Dr Eltigani E Bashier


UniVen selected the Aquagenx CBT E. coli Kit to use in each country. Each country selected a specific site where 200 water points (100 household water containers and 100 water source points) were assessed using the CBT Most Probable Number (MPN) Kit. Proper training materials and instructions for use were supplied by Aquagenx. An MSc student from each country did the project for a dissertation. All partners sent two people to a workshop in South Africa (UniVen) for training.

A total of 500 mL samples of household drinking water and source water were collected (maximum sample number = 200) for testing using the CBT Kit. Conductivity, pH, temperature and dissolved oxygen measurements also were taken for each sample. The water samples were incubated overnight (18-28 hours) at 37°C or ambient temperature. All positive E. coli samples were stored at 4°C.

Diarrhoeagenic E. coli prevalence was determined according to the published protocol of Kousar and Barnard (2014).

Test Results

MPN test results currently are being published for each country as well as a combined report that will show different pathogenic genes of E. coli prevalent in water used for drinking. This report will be in the public domain from 2019 to 2020. The following articles have been published to date:

1) Water source quality in Ahenema Kokoben, Ghana (2019) Amadu Salifu; Helen M. K. Essandoh; Afsatou Ndama Traore; Natasha Potgieter. Journal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development (2019) 9 (3): 450-459.

2) Quality of water sources in Southwestern Uganda using the compartment bag test (CBT): a cross-sectional descriptive study (2019); Richard Onyuthi Apecu; Lucas Ampaire; Edgar Mugema Mulogo; Fred Norman Bagenda; Afsatou Traore; Natasha Potgieter. Journal of Water, Sanitation & Hygiene for Development:

3) Water source quality testing in Gezira State, Sudan, using the compartment bag test (2019) Eltigani Bashier Abdelgalili, Mohamadani Ahmed, Jaafar Adam, Samira Hamid, Traore Afsatou, Ibtisam Elshiekh, Potgieter Natasha. Applied Water Science:


Professor Natasha Potgieter, Dean of the School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences at University of Venda, says about the CBT E. coli Kit: “The CBT Kit is easy to use, field friendly, user friendly and reliable. We are already using the CBT Kit with another project in Zimbabwe and will continue using this test with other projects for sure.”

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