Sensor technology for rapidly assessing water quality risks for vulnerable users (TRIGR)

Access to safe groundwater supplies underpins the resilience of the global poor to livelihood and health risks. Poor communities are often reliant on shallow groundwater sources highly vulnerable to microbiological contamination.

TRIGR will develop the application of a novel fluorescence sensor to predict the presence and level of faecal contamination in groundwater supplies within seconds. A robust assessment of this new technology will be undertaken as part of a national survey of 200 representative water points in Malawi.

The approach offers a potential step change in how water quality risks of water points in vulnerable communities in Africa and Asia are assessed. It enables higher resolution data collection, with greater sensitivity than is currently available with traditional methods.

The technology works rapidly and on site, improving the screening and assessment of at-risk water points and enabling interventions to be targeted and monitored to reduce the impact of waterborne health impacts on low income and marginalised groups of society.

This project is one of twelve Catalyst Projects funded through our Partnership Funding.


  • Assessing microbiological contamination in water sources: Field note on using the UviLux Tryptophan-Like Fluorescence (TLF) Probe, 2018. (access here)


August 2016 – November 2017




  • British Geological Survey
  • University of Malawi – Chancellors College
  • WaterAid
  • Chelsea Technologies Group

‘Water point failure due to poor water quality is common for both the urban and rural poor, and marginalised groups are often excluded from using the best water sources.’

Dan Lapworth, British Geological Survey

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