Manufacturing and Marketing E. coli Test Kits to Promote Safely Managed Drinking Water and Improved Public Health in Nepal

Manufacturing and Marketing E. coli Test Kits to Promote Safely Managed Drinking Water and Improved Public Health in Nepal
Jeffrey S. Ravel, Professor, Department of History, and Faculty Lead, MIT-Nepal Initiative

Period of performance: 

September 2018 to September 2019
Nepal, water safety, water, water testing, e. coli, Escherichia coli, Kathmandu, water contamination, sanitation, health, public health, EcoConcern, MIT-Nepal, J-WAFS, J-WAFS Solutions, Nepali, Environment and Public Health Organization, ENPHO, test kit, wearable, technology, wearable technology

Abstract: 

In Spring 2016, the MIT-Nepal Initiative funded the production and shipping of 2000 low-cost, easy to use, and highly accurate water-testing kits to Nepal.  These wearable kits were designed by MIT D-Lab lecturer Susan Murcott, and provide a simple, accessible way to test the presence of Escherichia coli (E. coli) in drinking water.  That year, the prototypes were used by the Nepali non-governmental organization, Environment and Public Health Organization (ENPHO), to test water found in food trucks and mobile water tanks in the Kathmandu Valley in the wake of the April 2015 earthquake. They proved to be influential in identifying the presence of this water-borne contaminant and reducing the illnesses that it can cause. 

Following the success of this initial collaboration, a J-WAFS Solutions Grant will support a collaboration of the MIT-Nepal Initiative, led by Prof. Jeffrey Ravel together with Susan Murcott, with the NGO ENPHO and its business subsidiary EcoConcern. The goal is to refine the design of these kits based on feedback from users in Kathmandu following the earthquake as well as on Murcott’s subsequent work on kit design and application in Ghana, the Philippines and Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.  Once the design is complete, the team will partner with EcoConcern and MIT’s Sloan School of Management to develop an economically feasible production plan for manufacturing, as well as a sales plan in order to bring these kits to market. The team plans to target the consumer market in Nepal initially, then they have set a medium-term goal of distributing the kits in Bhutan, Bangladesh and other locations in South Asia that face the risk of water-related diseases from unsafe drinking water. The team intends for profits from the sale of these kits to support ENPHO’s social and environmental programs to promote safely managed drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene in Nepal and South Asia.