We are Elrha, a force for change in the humanitarian community. The research and innovation we support equips the humanitarian community with the knowledge of what works, so people affected by crises get the right help when they need it most.
Our purpose is clear: to empower the humanitarian community to improve humanitarian response. We make this happen by supporting and championing the outcomes of robust research and proven innovations.
We empower the humanitarian community. Find out how we can support you...

WaterScope is developing a fast, low-cost bacterial test utilising our small, inexpensive microscope that can detect single bacteria and produce quantitative results in less than two hours.


Globally there are 663 million people without access to safe drinking water. Waterborne diseases from bacterial pathogens result in over 2.2 million deaths every year. The vast majority of those affected are in rural communities, which rely on infrequent visits from water testing companies. Kits currently available to test for bacteria are time-consuming, require power, and cannot be used by scientifically unskilled workers. There is currently no integrated way to share test results meaning that we frequently lack the information required to bring clean water where it is most needed.


WaterScope has created a 3D-printed microscope which is considerably cheaper and more portable than existing microscopes. This can be used to detect growth faster than existing tests, producing quantitative results in less than two hours and allowing tests to be carried out on site, permitting operators to deliver a strategy to the community once the test is complete.
Permanent testing hubs can be established in communities to encourage a bottom-up approach to water testing, reducing reliance upon external aid to test their water sources, and empowering communities to create sustainable change. In conjunction the microscope can be used for educational purposes, enabling rural communities to better understand what contaminates their water so that they can work towards making their water safer.
Data from our tests will automatically upload onto a central database, allowing for real-time mapping and review, and immediate intervention if required.

Play video

Latest Updates

Waterscope: a rapid, hand-held bacterial contamination test for drinking water

5 Jun 2017

Over 660 million people lack access to clean drinking water, with over 80% living in rural communities; these communities solely rely on external aid. Existing tests are slow, expensive and require significant training, resulting in infrequent testing, and poor dissemination to key stakeholders within the community.


Final report: developing an improved test for bacterial water contamination

19 Mar 2018

The final project report provides information on the methodology, activities, outputs, impact and dissemination of learning.


Read the Humanitarian WASH Innovation Catalogue

Learn more about this WASH project, and many others, in our Humanitarian WASH Innovation Catalogue.

Read now

Subscribe to our newsletters....

Elrha © 2018 - 2019 Elrha is a registered charity in England and Wales (1177110).
Elrha Please upgrade your browser

You are seeing this because you are using a browser that is not supported. The Elrha website is built using modern technology and standards. We recommend upgrading your browser with one of the following to properly view our website:

Windows Mac

Please note that this is not an exhaustive list of browsers. We also do not intend to recommend a particular manufacturer's browser over another's; only to suggest upgrading to a browser version that is compliant with current standards to give you the best and most secure browsing experience.