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MSc project feature: Mohamed Juanah's freshwater quality research in Sierra Leone

This is the second instalment in our series featuring MSc student projects. Mohamed Juanah is carrying out his research project in Sierra Leone  as part of the MSc in Freshwater Quality Monitoring and Assessment, jointly run by the School of BEES and UN GEMS Water Capacity Development Centre, based in the ERI . 

Following our first feature on our research student in Ghana, we are delighted to feature the ongoing research of Mohamed Juanah.

Juanah’s project focuses on change in the water quality status in the Rokel river basin in Sierra Leone. His research aims to determine the impacts of land use on the basin and to identify potential sources of pollution using physico-chemical and bacteriological methods. This research is also expected to provide Sierra Leone’s first dataset to report for the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) indicator 6.3.2 for water quality in 2020. 

Collecting field data prior to sampling

The Rokel river basin is one of the most important river basins in Sierra Leone and is a significant source of water for domestic, agricultural and industrial activities. The total basin area is 8236 km2 and drains into the Atlantic Ocean.  The basin originates from the highlands in the north-east of Sierra Leone-Guinea border and traverses cities, major towns, villages and communities in five districts: Falaba, Koinadugu, Tonkolili, Bombali and PortLoko Districts.

Major activities in the basin include iron ore and gold mining, water abstraction for agri-business, and the Bumbuna hydroelectric power scheme. Within the river basin, drinking water is obtained at the Magburaka and the Lunsar water abstraction intake points. It is also a potential drinking water source for more than two million people in the capital city of Freetown and its environs. 

Juanah’s project to carry out an assessment of the Rokel river basin’s water quality is very important due to the role of the basin in providing water for these competing uses. Water users often require water of good quality but are accompanied by their own risks of causing water pollution. Juanah’s project is expected to provide vital information for creating and improving policy and management practice. This will help direct resources efficiently to reduce and mitigate pollution. 

This current data collection campaign in the Rokel River Basin in Sierra Leone is the first of its kind. It hopes to establish an ambient water quality database to provide information which will serve as reference point for future data investigation. Juanah is working hard to analyse the data collected thus far and we are excited to see the results of his project.

Team using a Hydrokit HK3000 portable field kit