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Rural Water Quality Improvement in Amazonian Peru-Developing Effective Household Point-Of-Use Drinking Water Treatment Protocols

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The USAID-funded Healthy Communities and Municipalities Project (HCM), managed by Management Sciences for Health (MSH), works with communities in seven of Peru's

Amazonian regions to identify their own health priorities; at the top of this list of perceived health needs is typically improved water. USAID asked the Hygiene Improvement Project (HIP) to partner with MSH to develop the Community Network to Improve the Quality of Household Drinking Water. This required developing simple point-of-use household water treatment options using inexpensive, locally available equipment and consumables in the absence of commercial water treatment products. In addition, MSH and HIP were asked to develop a simple sustainable system for communities to monitor the bacterial quality of household drinking water.

A small field team, working with MSH field staff and supported by HIP and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), conducted broad-based technical and behavioral diagnostics that included assessment of local organizational capacity; investigation of household knowledge and practices around water collection, treatment, storage and use; representative sampling and analysis of bacterial quality, turbidity and chlorine demand of ambient water sources; and availability of local materials for ensuring effective water treatment options. Using these assessments the team produced simple point-of-use (POU) household protocols for boiling, solar disinfection or SODIS, and chlorination using locally available bleach (sodium hypochlorite) products (since no commercial water treatment product is available). Additionally, the team focused on developing locally appropriate recommendations for storage and handling issues, which are important for all treated waters, but are especially critical when using SODIS and boiling since they lack the additional “protective” effect of residual chlorine, which reduces the risk of recontamination after treatment.

Setting up a simple system for water quality monitoring is not the same as ensuring people have the capacity to conduct water quality testing. Because of the difficulty in setting up a monitoring system given the lack of adequate support mechanisms in CurimanĂ¡, and because it was outside the scope of the project to institute them, the team concluded it was premature to proceed with instituting a district system for water quality monitoring.
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Keywords: Point-of-use treatment; SODIS; boiling; disinfection; household chlorination; turbidity reduction; water quality monitoring

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-01-01

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