Relatively few studies have explored how resilience of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) systems to hazards can be enhanced under the current and future development and climatic challenges pressures in urban areas. This study employed the citizen science approach to build the capacity of citizens and integrate communities into scientific research on water quality and WASH related risk monitoring. Data was collected with assistance of 8 self-motivated and trained citizen science research counterparts. Standard sampling procedures were used to collect water samples from a total of 27 unsafe water sources in Karonga Town. The water samples were analysed for biological, physical and chemical parameters using standard methods. Personal observations were done to determine major sanitary risks impacting on a water sources in the town. It was observed that water from the majority of water samples collected from shallow wells, rivers/streams, lake and boreholes were highly contaminated with Escherichia coli, which were considerably higher than Malawi Bureau of Standards water quality specifications for drinking water. In general, the water is of low mineralization with rock-water interactions and surface pollution from anthropogenic activities such as agricultural activities and municipal wastes being responsible for input of biological, chemical and physical pollutants especially into the unlined and uncovered water sources. The results of the water quality index (WQI) and water quality (WQ) ratings indicated that water is not suitable for direct human consumption prior to treatment. It is recommended that onsite treatment and point of use water treatment interventions should be instituted and advocated to improve human health, livelihoods and to build resilience to WASH related risks and hazards in Karonga Town.
Key words: Citizen Science, resilience, urban risks, water quality index, water, sanitation, hygiene.
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