TANZANIA: Isotope hydrology laboratory opens in Dodoma

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TANZANIA: Isotope hydrology laboratory opens in Dodoma ©ADragan / Shutterstock

A Tanzanian Isotope Hydrology Laboratory is now operational. Located in Dodoma, the capital of Tanzania, the facility's main mission will be to protect the country's water sources. A first in East Africa!

A new stage has just been reached in the management of water resources in Tanzania. The government has just commissioned an isotope hydrology laboratory in Dodoma, the Tanzanian capital. The facility will help to protect the country’s water sources through the technique of isotope hydrology. This is a nuclear technique that helps countries better manage water resources by providing information on the origin, age, quality and movement of water in underground aquifers. For example, by studying the isotopes (variants of chemical elements in water, editor’s note) of water, Tanzanian hydrologists will be able to gain more scientific knowledge that will help them inform the more than 410,000 people in Dodoma and across the country on how best to protect and preserve water supplies.

In order to carry out water analyses, Tanzania’s first hydrology laboratory has been equipped with a liquid isotope water analyser. The equipment cost the government $62,000 USD, more than 143.5 million Tanzanian shillings. “If some of the water is tested from a river, it will help provide potential information to determine the amount of groundwater. This is a good thing, especially if you are planning to drill a well. If instead the water is tested from an unknown source, the laboratory will help analyse its components – mainly hydrogen and oxygen – to determine the source,” says Emmanuel Nahozya, a hydrologist with the Tanzanian Ministry of Water and Irrigation. “The new research laboratory will also be used to determine the level of a water source and the actual volume of groundwater in a well-defined area,” says Kitila Mkumbo, the Permanent Secretary of the Tanzanian Ministry of Water and Irrigation.

Tanzania’s Isotope Hydrology Laboratory is the first infrastructure of its kind built in East Africa. “The technology that will be used in the laboratory is new, hence the need for skilled personnel who are familiar with the operation of the liquid isotope water analyser installed in the structure. Unfortunately, Tanzania’s most experienced hydrologists will retire very soon without immediate replacements,” says Mkumbo.

The country is therefore planning to train and employ students in the water sciences to fill the shortage of qualified water personnel that will soon be apparent in the country.

Inès Magoum

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