Molly Byrne has been awarded the 2016 IWSN-UWE Student Prize for her investigation into water quality in rainwater harvesting tanks in rural Kenya.
Molly travelled to Kenya in the summer of 2015 as part of the UWE Global Water Security Project, and conducted research in collaboration with Kenya Rainwater Association (KRA). Her final year project, An investigation into the ability of rainwater harvesting to reduce water scarcity for rural residence in Baringo, Kikuyu and Kamango in Kenya, revealed rainwater harvesting was often failing to produce water of a safe drinking quality. In many cases, participants were untrained in how to maintain the technology. A spokesman for KRA said: “[Molly’s] work…was a wake-up call for us…we were shocked that water we had thought was good was higher in coliform than we anticipated. It was a big learning experience for us.”
She said: “This is a well-written dissertation, with strong conceptual framing and robust methodology. Despite some of the limitations of the fieldwork, and the limited sample, the dissertation points to the challenges that advocates of rainwater harvesting need to consider, particularly in terms of maintenance of household water tanks. Byrne argues, and rightly so, that hard technology driven solutions to problems of water security in Africa and indeed in other parts of the world, need to be matched with equal attention to behavioural change.”
Molly was given the £500 prize at her graduation ceremony at Bristol Cathedral on 22 July 2016. She said: “Thank you – I am so chuffed! I know how hard everyone worked on their projects, so it was lovely to be recognised for the work I had done.”