A low-cost water quality monitoring system for the Ayeyarwady River in Myanmar using a participatory approach

Thanda Thatoe Nwe Win, Thom Bogaard*, Nick van de Giesen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
72 Downloads (Pure)


Newly developed mobile phone applications in combination with citizen science are used in different fields of research, such as public health monitoring, environmental monitoring, precipitation monitoring, noise pollution measurement and mapping, earth observation. In this paper, we present a low-cost water quality mobile phone measurement technique combined with sensor and test strips, and reported the weekly-collected data of three years of the Ayeyarwady River system by volunteers at seven locations and compared these results with the measurements collected by the lab technicians. We assessed the quality of the collected data and their reliability based on several indicators, such as data accuracy, consistency, and completeness. In this study, six local governmental staffs and one middle school teacher collected baseline water quality data with high temporal and spatial resolution. The quality of the data collected by volunteers was comparable to the data of the experienced lab technicians for sensor-based measurement of electrical conductivity and transparency. However, the lower accuracy (higher uncertainty range) of the indicator strips made them less useful in the Ayeyarwady with its relatively small water quality variations. We showed that participatory water quality monitoring in Myanmar can be a serious alternative for a more classical water sampling and lab analysis-based monitoring network, particularly as it results in much higher spatial and temporal resolution of water quality information against the very modest investment and running costs. This approach can help solving the invisible water crisis of unknown water quality (changes) in river and lake systems all over the world.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1984
Number of pages16
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Ayeyarwady river
  • Mobile app
  • Water quality


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