Its Monday 1st August 2016 and water water everywhere

Hello there everyone, so I hope you are all sitting comfortably and have had a fabulous weekend.  Here in the Luangwa we are as busy as ever with lots of incredible sightings; however we are in fact going to go completely off with today’s story and end up in Germany!  I am sure at this point I can almost see all the puzzled looks on your faces but lets go with it as this is in fact a very interesting project.  Two years ago we were visited by a Professor Thomas Kupper and his team with goal of analysing as many of the water sources as they had time for here in the Luangwa Valley.  There was a secondary project run alongside this which aimed to look at diseases transmitted by ticks in the local villages.  So for this week over to Professor Kupper and his team Simone and Celina.

“When it was suggested to two medical student from Aachen University in Germany that they accompany professor Kupper to one of the most beautiful work sites there was no hesitation.  At the end of every day we were rewarded with a gorgeous sunset and for us (Simone and Celina) working in Zambia was a completely new experience.  Thomas on the other hand had not only travelled to Zambia several times before, especially the South Luangwa, but has become an expert on its natural history and resources he describes in the German travel guide of Zambia (Iwanowski’s Publ.).


At the Institute of Occupational Health and Social Medicine in Aachen, people ask for information about their travel destinations including questions like: Is the water safe for drinking? What kinds of dangerous animals – especially the small ones like disease-transmitting mosquitos or ticks – do I have to expect? Do you recommend any vaccinations for Zambia? To most questions we can now give precise answers to most of the questions: Overall the drinking water in the South Luangwa Valley is good and safe to drink. Fear the hippos, not the ticks and mosquitos! This recommendation obviously does not cover all Zambia, however the studies were performed in the South Luangwa Valley where many tourists stay over the holiday season.


When we came to the Valley in June 2014, the plan was first to check the water in the lodges but it soon became clear that it was important to also make a contribution to the local population.  The local authorities were great and very helpful in accommodating our requests and even though we had limited time and resources we managed to draw water samples from more than 150 boreholes and wells.  These were all taken back to Germany with us and from there we started the long process of analysing everything for bacteria and other polluting material.  The results were surprisingly better than any of us had ever expected.













The most important question was the occurrence of coliform bacteria in the sources used as drinking water. Coliform bacteria indicates pollution by animal and human faeces that may cause diarrhoea and chronic illness, especially among children. Diarrhoea is one main cause of child deaths and can be prevented. Luckily, we found that most water sources provide drinking water of very good or good quality. The premis of the attribution “very good quality” is that no coliform bacteria occur in the water sample as WHO and all national guidelines demand. Water free from these indicator bacteria is safe for drinking for everybody.


The second investigation dealt with heavy metals: Due to the local geology the occurrence of certain metals is not excluded. Metals in water affect human heath not immediately, but in the long term. In the soil of the South Luangwa Valley Iron and Manganese were expected to occur, but also other heavy metals cannot be excluded without water analyses. Fortunately, we did not find an excessive occurrence of these metals in the drinking water.  Normally heavy metals play an important role in regions with mining industry or other industries working with toxic metals like lead, cadmium or mercury. But they may also occur in volcanic regions or where tectonic activity has formed the landscape as it did in the valley.








We hope to continue with projects in the Valley since it was a win-win-situation for both, local people in the Valley and for our scientific experience. Thanks again to Robin Pope Safaris for their grand support and for accommodation with the most gorgeous view a working place may have, accompanied by mouth-watering food! Thanks also to everybody from the always friendly and helpful staff!

Best wishes from Aachen. Celina and the ADEMED team”

Thanks Celina and the team. Whilst I realise that this has moved away from our usual stories for Its Monday it was a project that was very important not only to the lodges but also the local community.  Secondly it also helps us answer a lot of questions that we get about the quality of our water as we can now confidently say that it is of WHO standard and is perfectly safe to drink.  So no going thirsty for us!

I am going to leave you at this for this week but don’t you worry, next week we have all sorts of stories about what the wildlife has been up to and I can assure you the incredible sightings just keep on coming.  So have a fabulous week with lots of smiles and laughter and remember to always look after each other.


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