Development of low-cost diagnostic tools assessing mercury contamination
Location : Cali, rural Colombia
Duration : 2-6 months
Availability : Applications closed
Hosting structure: Universidad del Valle
In Colombia, water availability per capita is relatively high (50,000 m3/inhabitant/year), but unequal distribution and contamination are major problems in rural settings (Rojas et al, 2013). One of the largest practices that threaten natural ecosystems in the Cauca river basin is the use of mercury for artisanal gold mining (WHO, 2016). Even though mercury usage for industrial purposes is now illegal in Colombia, the governmental institutions lack capacity to inforce regulations; particularly in the remote rural areas where most artisanal gold mines are located. To address this problem, we propose the development of community-based environmental protection programs. The primary outcome of the strategy is to change the corrective actions from focusing on regulation enforcement to a focus on education and communication strategies (Sánchez & Ortolano, 2005). The first milestone towards our goal is to implement a pilot program on participatory action research (PAR) for assisting vulnerable rural communities in the management and supply of water (Lammerink, 1998). PAR is a cost-efficient, sustainable platform that can be appropriated by local communities. The engagement of youth through PAR has proven successful in improving water quality and land management in the Colombian Andes (Roa & Brown 2009).
For implementing PAR in water safety monitoring, in-situ diagnostic tools are highly desirable. Unlike most laboratory standard techniques, these tools should be portable, disposable, user friendly, and low-cost. In this particular application, precision of the tool is not as important as its ability to provide a rough estimation on the levels of mercury in the sampled water.
Methodology : We have identified microwave-assisted synthesis of carbon quantum dots (CQDs) as a promising technique for local production of mercury sensors. The general detection mechanism is based on fluorescence quenching of the CQDs by mercury.
The intern would work on the synthesis and characterization of different types of CQD-based sensors for mercury detection. Based on our preliminary data of relevant mercury levels for different water sources in the Northern Cauca region, as well as in the particular field conditions in which mercury sensing will be conducted, the student will tune the manufacturing method in order to develop a rapid diagnostics device for water safety assessment by rural communities in the Cauca region.
Expected outcomes: The main outcome will be empowerment of rural communities through training and education on the implementation of locally-fabricated low-cost technologies for assessing environmental contamination. We will develop a participatory monitoring program that will (i) help the communities to understand environmental pollution in order to make informed decisions about the use of natural resources on the basis of analytical data; will (ii) contribute to enhance community capacity to demand environmental protection, mitigation and reparation from governmental institutions; and (iii) produce methods and technology available for all of the public in order to connect with different databases, enforcing environmental surveillance from the public sphere to drive policy.
Required skills: Laboratory skills ware preferred. Strong capacity of adaptation to new teams and conditions. Auntonomy and responsabiliy is expected. Programming and electronics skills are welcome.
Contact : Julien Wist <email@example.com>
Mobile crowdsourcing platform for supporting Water Community Observatories
Location : Mexico
Duration : 3-6 months (to be defined)
Availability : now
Hosting structure: SieNi – You-i-Lab
The rapid advances in information technology are having a wide-ranging impact in the life of people around the world. Although these advances present significant challenges to society, these also offer unprecedented opportunities for people to connect, interact, innovate, and become active agents for positive social change within their communities. The You-i Lab aims to engage and empower youth through the use of ICTs and open innovation methodologies to develop projects for the public good in the Global South. The National Supercomputing Center (CNS) in San Luis Potosí hosts the You-i Lab, which is a state-of-the-art HPC research facility that focuses on the development of large-scale industrial projects. The CNS is managed by the Instituto Potosino de Investigación Científica y Tecnológica (IPICYT), in México.
SieNi is a non-profit organization created in 2016 and based in Lausanne, Switzerland. We propose an innovative strategy at the crossroads of children’s rights and protection of the environment. Combining participatory science and community mobilization, we give Colombian children the necessary tools to become key actors of social change and better orient water governance in their territory.
Water in Colombia is being contaminated at an alarming rate. In 2010, a report by the UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) named Colombia among the top 9 countries that had 60% of the Earth’s freshwater reserves; five years later, in 2015, Colombia had fallen to 24th in the list. Despite high annual rainfall, the Colombian Ministry of the Environment estimates that 50 % of the country’s freshwater reserves have quality issues. The IDEAM (Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies of Colombia) has rang the alarm: If we don’t act now, by the year 2025, 69% of Colombians will be at high risk of no access to clean water during drought periods. Similar water problems are occurring in other Latin American countries like Mexico.
Organized in “water teams” led by their schoolteachers, the children diagnose water issues in their area, and then formulate and implement an action-research project. Teachers are trained on how to lead students throughout the process. Each water team has a mentor: a scientist specialized in water, based in Colombia or abroad, who interacts with his/her team in real time using digital media. The mentor ensures the scientific quality of the work of the water team. The results of the children’s research contribute to regional water observatories. An observatory is a physical space, a stage to raise, discuss and debate issues around water; and a virtual space, a database storing the water team’s findings that helps to identify and monitor the water situation in the region.
One of the challenges of our project is to develop the technology needed to host the database that will store the findings of the water teams. We have called this technology “Platform for Community Water Observatories” (PCWO). In 2017, the first version of the PCWO was developed thanks to a CODEV Seed Money grant to support community observatories in Colombia. A mobile crowdsourcing platform developed by the You-I Lab at IPICYT, was adapted to the needs of the project, tested on the field, and installed in December 2017 in the server of Universidad Nacional de Colombia, SieNi’s partner in Bogotá in charge of hosting the observatories.
As the PCWO was being developed, SieNi’s pilot project, which will end in May 2017, was in course with 30 water teams. The pilot project allowed partners to identify the type of data that can realistically be collected by the children in the water teams with the means they dispose of on the field. Children will recover data on the following aspects:
- physical geography of their water basin;
- flora and the fauna present in their water basin;
- social uses of water in their water basin;
- state of water in their water basin.
In its present form, the PCWO allows children to delimit their water basin on an interactive platform, and to upload geo-localized images, texts and numerical data using their mobile phones. Data can also be uploaded from a desktop computer.
Is the first version of the PCWO adapted to the real needs of the water teams? Can all the data which will be collected by the water teams be satisfactorily registered in the PCWO in its present version, and then be used in a profitable manner for scientific research and decision-making, or do some changes have to be made and/or some new modules developed? Can the PCWO be seamlessly used in other Latina American countries like México?
Solving this challenge requires a multi-disciplinary working group of students, including at least two computer engineers:
- Web applications developer with experience programming in Java, Java Script, PHP, MongoDB.
- Mobile apps developer with experience developing Android applications.
Salvador Ruiz Correa
Susana Borda Carulla
SieNi General Secretary
Implementation of a water safety strategy
Location : Dübendorf, Switzerland and Birendranagar, Nepal.
Duration : 4 months
Availability : not recruiting
Hosting structure: Sandec, the Department of Sanitation, Water and Solid Waste for Development of Eawag which is the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, an internationally networked aquatic research institute within the ETH Domain (Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology). Eawag conducts research, education and expert consulting to achieve the dual goals of meeting direct human needs for water and maintaining the function and integrity of aquatic ecosystems.
Project description: Internship to support research activities on the implementation of a water safety strategy in rural Nepal (REACH-Nepal). Eawag’s past research in rural areas in Mid-Western Nepal revealed inconsistent water quality across the piped schemes, high rates of recontamination of stored drinking water, and low perceived risk perception among water users. Spatial and temporal dynamics of water quality also revealed inadequate protection of spring sources supplying the system. REACH-Nepal is the current collaborative project with HELVETAS and focuses on installing solar-powered field laboratories across the HELVETAS’ Water Resource Management Program (WARM-P) service region and training local technicians to monitor and mitigate drinking water supplies.
REACH-Nepal was launched in January 2017 and the pilot phase ran from June to December 2017 in the district of Dailekh. The second phase of the project started in January 2018, expanding the study scope in new districts. To assess the impact of the REACH project, data is collected at different time points. The responsibility of the intern is to conduct baseline data collection in the field using mobile data collection tools, including the training of local enumerators. The intern will also be responsible for conducting water sampling to assess the microbial water quality using the membrane filtration method, and a solar-powered laboratory setup in the field. The amount spent in the field in Nepal will be of about 3 months.
- Student of a postgraduate degree in environmental engineering, or related field (individuals which are not enrolled at a University cannot be employed as interns)
- Fundamental knowledge on drinking water quality
- Fluency in English (spoken and written)
- Passionate about field-based research
- Capability to collaborate with research partners and stakeholders
- Experience with laboratory analysis and excel database management
Contact : Ariane Schertenleib, firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: Intern salary and travel expenses covered by the hosting structure but no Ingénieurs du Monde travel grant
Étude bactériologique sur le robinet THE DROP
Section: SV, SIE, CGC (flexible)
Lieu: Dakar et région, Sénégal
Durée : Minimum 8 semaines sur le terrain
Disponibilité: Dès février 2019
Structure d’accueil: ADED est une Association de Développement Durable, à but non lucratif, créée en 2011 pour apporter aide technique et financière à des projets de développement durable (reproductibles localement). Composée d’ingénieurs et chefs de projets bénévoles, elle a développé des solutions innovantes et durables, adaptées aux contextes de l’humanitaire et du développement : 2 modèles de pompes à eau BASILEA et NEENE FOUTA – www.aded-suisse.org, ainsi que le robinet éco-sanitaire THE DROP – www.the-drop.ch
Description du projet: Avant tout travail sur le terrain, la recherche de fonds fait partie intégrante de ce stage. L’ADED donnera tout l’appui nécessaire au stagiaire dans ses démarches.
- Étude bactériologique comparative pour le lavage des mains avec : le robinet éco-sanitaire THE DROP, un robinet 1/4 de tour et un satala, + éventuellement sceau + pot et bassines.
- Étude sur l’économie d’eau du robinet THE DROP pour un lavage des mains.
- Étude comportementale/ergonomique du robinet.
Compétences requises: Etudiant intéressé par le travail sur le terrain, en laboratoire mais également par la recherche de fonds. Niveau de master demandé.
Contact : Jean-Marc Waridel, email@example.com – firstname.lastname@example.org
Software for self-teaching programs
Location : Bangalore, India
Duration : 6 months
Availability : now
Hosting structure: Project DEFY is an Indian non-profit organisation, that has created a unique scalable model of self-learning through physical spaces called Nooks. The organisation helps various underserved communities create their own nooks, where they self-learn, with the help of community, technology and curiosity.
This internship is being offered for another core-process development. Creation of a Nook is an 8 month long process. The Nook is created together with the community and the partner who is the ultimate owner of the project. DEFY, in this period, establishes the nook in the partners community, and takes it to the point of self- running and independence, after which DEFY will not be needed. At this point, DEFY must also handover a kind of resource kit, that helps them to continue running the Nook.
The Nook runs roughly in three-month cycles, with four aspects – Outreach, Induction, Regular Project Making and Review. The Nook community and partner must be able to manage this post the 8 months. Besides these, some other resources must be created to help, for example, in choosing the next nook managers, managing funds and accounts, continuous reporting and social media, etc.
- A strong proficiency in content (text and visual)
- An understanding of self-learning, and preferably some experience in it, in their own learning journeys
- Enthusiasm in working with communities, organisations
- A big-picture attitude
Contact : Abhijit Sinha, email@example.com
Traitement des Eaux Eutrophes par la Photocatalyse
Lieu: Yamoussoukro, Côte d’Ivoire
Durée : 6 mois
Disponibilité : Maintenant
Structure d’accueil : Groupe de recherche Procédé et Environnement (INP-HB Yamoussoukro)
Stage proposé en partenariat avec etuRESCIF: http://eturescif.net/project/eau
Description du projet :
L’expansion démographique et l’essor économique que connaissent les pays du monde sans occulter ceux de l’Afrique ont des conséquences sur l’environnement et sur les plans d’eau. Ainsi, les ressources en eau sont soumises à une forte pression exercée par l’activité anthropique (agriculture, industrie, élevage, pêche, domestique, hôpitaux, etc.). Les activités anthropiques à caractère socio-économique couplées à celles des processus naturels (érosion des sols, précipitation, évaporation, ruissellement des eaux fluviales) accélèrent la dégradation des ressources en eau de surface. Elles provoquent des perturbations de l’équilibre naturel et accroissent la charge organique de l’eau et des
sédiments, puis l’encombrement des ressources en eau, avec des problèmes d’eutrophisation, l’asphyxie de l’environnement aquatique ainsi que les problèmes sanitaires
L’azote et le phosphore contribuent à des situations d’eutrophisation des écosystèmes. Le phosphore a pour principale origine l’agriculture et les rejets domestiques. La photocatalyse est une technologie de traitement émergent. Ce procédé présente plusieurs avantages par rapport aux procédés plus classiques : c’est un procédé destructif et un grand nombre de polluants peuvent être minéralisés à température et pression ambiantes, L’objectif de ce projet est donc d’évaluer l’efficacité de la photocatalyse à base de TiO2 pour le traitement de l’eutrophisation des eaux superficielles.
- La première partie de ce travail consiste à concevoir, à réaliser et à tester un réacteur photocatalytique annulaire à lit fixe.
- Une seconde partie consistera à tester le réacteur photocatalytique avec des eaux eutrophes des lacs de Yamoussoukro.
Le candidat devra justifier de connaissances et compétences en traitement des eaux et / ou génie chimique. Il devra par ailleurs posséder de bonnes capacités rédactionnelles et relationnelles.
Recherche et purification de molécules fonctionnelles dans la lutte contre les maladies cardio-vasculaires
Lieu: Dakar, Sénégal
Durée : 2 à 6 mois
Disponibilité : Maintenant
Structure d’accueil : CENTRE D’ETUDES SUR LA SECURITE ALIMENTAIRE ET LES MOLECULES FONCTIONNELLES (CESAM)
Stage proposé en partenariat avec etuRESCIF: http://eturescif.net/site/
Description du projet :
L’amélioration de la santé des populations et la prévention des maladies chroniques procède d’abord d’une alimentation intelligente. Elle se fait par la sélection des
alicaments et la diversification en qualité nutritionnelle des aliments.
Ce travail de recherche vise à identifier des sources oléagineuses riches en acides gras triterpéniques présentes dans la biodiversité végétale du Sénégal. Deux
objectifs spécifiques sont visés:
- Identification des huiles végétales alimentaires négligées et études
- Diagnostic des procédés de production
Master en Sciences de la vie et de la nature, Biochimie des produits naturels, Sciences des aliments. Aptitude de communication et collaboration interculturelle.
Bonnes dispositions d’adaptation, d’initiative et d’autonomie.
Social Housing for Slums Inhabitants
Section: Archi, GC
Location : Chile (Copiapó, Santiago, Valparaíso, Rancagua, Constitución, Concepción or Valdivia)
Duration : 2-6 months (to be defined)
Availability : now
Hosting structure: TECHO – CHILE
Chile has nowadays more than 40.000 families living in slums, our definition of a slum is a group of 8 or more families that live in the same territory and have no ownership of the land, also they don’t have access to, at least, one of the basic services, water, sanitation or electricity. TECHO-Chile is a volunteers organization that fights for the eradication of all chilean slums. Meanwhile we work with volunteers aiming for education reinforcement, work opportunities and, most important of all, community organization. And that is how we think slums would be gone for good, by empowering people and helping them to demand their rights collectively.
The students would participate in the different stages of our social housing projects, from the design to the construction and delivery of the houses. The student will have a tutor and will help him/her with the projects he/she is managing. While the student is in TECHO the idea is that she/he goes to the weekly meetings with the community.
- Computer drawing
- Green areas and community centers design
- Construction site visits
- Construction budget reviews
- Environmental improvements proposals
Contact : Consuelo Polenco [firstname.lastname@example.org]
FabLab – Learning by doing space
Section: MT, EL, ME, SIE, GC
Location : Pabal, Pune region, India
Duration : 2-6 months (to be defined)
Availability : now
Hosting structure: Vigyan Ashram. Vigyan Ashram is engaged in development of appropriate technologies for rural India and training rural youth on those technologies. It also helps them starting their own enterprises and projects. Vigyan Ashram’s philosophy is based on the principle of “Learning by doing”. Its central activity is located on a campus in Pabal, a small village in the region of Pune, India.
The student will support development of rural regions in India by conducting a project to develop a suitable technology solving real-life problems faced in rural areas and by coaching local students in Vigyan Ashram’s FabLab.
- Personal project (60%) – Developing and piloting a project of developing a technology adapted to the need and environment of rural India. The field and topic of the project will be chosen and defined depending on the interest and background of the intern. Example of fields: Drone for cutting high rise fruits like coconut; Use of wearable electronics in traditional indian dresses; Development in Gasifier using brown biomass ; automated Machines for making Indian snacks ; Waste management
- Coaching of Vigyan Ashram’s community (40%) – Conducting workshops for students in Vigyan Ashram’s FabLab. Helping at implementing projects on the field.
Duration of the internship is flexible and will be defined according to the project.
- Engineering student (BA, MA)
- Ability to design using softwares like Auto-CAD or Solidworks
- Knowledge in any of the following areas: microcontrollers / sensors / composites / machine design / construction / fabrication
- Passion for D-I-Y is preferable.
Contact : Yogesh Kulkarni, email@example.com
Assessment of a Novel Substrate for Detection of E. coli
Section : SV, CGC, SIE
Location : Dubendorf (ZH) with possibility of field work in Burkina Faso
Duration : Master thesis
Availability: Not now
Hosting structure : Eawag-Sandec.
Eawag mandate is to develop and test methods and technologies that help the worlds’ poorest access sustainable water and sanitation services, doing this by:
- Working in close collaboration with international and local universities, NGOs, governmental bodies and development organizations, to ensure buy-in and future scale-up.
- Testing and piloting in partner countries at the household, community, and city-wide scale.
- Publishing and disseminating research and training tools for free.
Project description : The Water Supply and Treatment (WST) Group in the Dept Sandec at Eawag conducts applied research on technologies and methods for improving drinking water quality in low- and middle-income countries. Eawag is seeking a student for a MSc thesis project on the assessment of a novel substrate for detection of E. coli called RUG (Resorufin-beta-D-glucuronide methyl ester). As compared to standard methods, RUG generates a strong pink coloration and therefore does not require external UV illumination. RUG is also more sensitive at lower bacteria concentrations, requires shorter incubation times, and remains stable for prolonged storage periods in tropical climates. RUG therefore offers an intriguing solution for the detection of fecal contamination in drinking water, especially in developing countries.
Laboratory work will be done at Eawag under the supervision of Dr. Sara Marks (Sandec Dept.) and Dr. Timothy Julian (Umik Dept.). Robustness tests can include, if feasible, field work in Burkina Faso. In addition to the final MSc thesis, an expected output of this project is a technical brief or journal article. This project is supported by the WHO/Eawag Collaborating Centre on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene.
Interested students should send their CV and a statement of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Required skills :
The MSc student will assess the RUG method by conducting:
- Positive and negative controls
- Strain challenges
- Sensitivity/specificity tests
- Sensitivity to a range of incubation temperatures
- Robustness to different water matrices
Contact : Dr. Sara Marks, email@example.com