Household Water Treatment

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Historically, interventions to provide people with safe water have focussed on improving water sources. However there is now a consensus among the WatSan community that even if the drinking water source is safe it can easily be re-contaminated during its transportation and storage in the household (Clasen and Bastable, 2003). A safe water intervention should therefore begin with an improved water supply and be followed by safe water collection, handling and storage. In circumstances where the source is not deemed safe, point of use water treatment should be performed. All of these should be coupled with hygiene promotion activities to ensure correct understanding, use and maintenance of the hardware.

Resources

Oxfam's approach to Emergency Household water filters

Oxfam Briefing Paper: Hygiene Promotion for Household Water Treatment and Storage in Emergencies

Oxfam Technical Brief 4: Household Water Treatment Storage

Lifesaver Cube: Oxfam's Experience in South Sudan

Minimum Requirements

  • In camp settings the focus of water treatment should be on bulk chlorination.
  • Alternative HHWT options, such as household-level chlorination (liquid chlorine or tablets), combined floc/disinfectant sachets, ceramic pots or candles, bios and filters, solar disinfection (SODIS) and boiling are generally more appropriate for non-camp settings (including slow-onset emergencies and when people are still in their homes). Factors influencing the decision as to which approach to implement include existing local practice, reliability of supplies, and local availability of spares / consumables.
  • Information and follow up must always be provided when introducing HHWT to ensure that products are used effectively and safely
  • All water treatment options are limited in their potential to protect health if the affected communities do not practice safe methods of collection, transportation and household storage of water. Such risks must be addressed in the response e.g. through NFI distributions, regular cleaning of containers and ongoing public health promotion.

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