Moyo, S., Wright, J.A., Ndamba, J. and Gundry, S.W.
Realising the maximum health benefits from water quality improvements in the home: a case from Zaka district, Zimbabwe
Physics and Chemistry of the Earth, Parts A/B/C, 29, (15-18), . (doi:10.1016/j.pce.2004.09.012).
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The provision of good quality household drinking water is often regarded as an important means of improving health. There are however indications that the microbiological quality of water deteriorates between source and point of use in the home. The notion that providing clean water sources could be the solution to the rural water supply problem might therefore not be correct.
This paper presents the findings from a survey that sought to investigate the quality of water in the home post-collection and any factors that were contributing to the quality. The 24 households that participated in the study were selected randomly from two villages. Water samples were collected from the households and from the drinking water sources. These were tested for total coliforms and Escherichia coli.
Greater contamination was detected in the water drawn from unprotected wells than in that drawn from protected ones. For protected sources, there was an increase in the numbers of pathogens in the stored water relative to the source water. In a few instances there was a decrease in indicator bacteria numbers following water collection. This could have been due to a natural die off of the pathogens. There however did not seem to be a significant correlation between the microbiological quality of water in the home and the length of time the water has been stored.
These findings indicate that there is some deterioration in the microbiological quality of water post-collection and it appears the phenomenon may be attributable to water handling and hygiene behaviours in the home. Water was collected frequently and rarely treated after collection. Only one household out of the 24 reported treating their water after collecting it. Home water treatment or safe storage may be an appropriate intervention in this community to reduce diarrhoeal disease.
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