Home > Programmes > Water Disinfection
Treat soiled water and prevent the spread of disease
by promoting the practice of boiling water and the usage of chlorine,
iodine, or even household bleach, to conduct home water disinfection.
Health workers will be trained to use these practices, and will convey
the techniques to mothers.
|Name: Household-Based Water Disinfection
|Theme: Safe Water Management
||Region and Country: Maharashtra, India
Water disinfection can be quite effective in managing soiled water and
preventing the spread of disease. In Maharashtra, however, 44% of all
households do not attempt to purify water at all, and of those that do, the
most common method by far is to strain water through a cloth, which offers
little or no disinfection of disease-causing agents. Only 18% of households
(13% rural) boil or filter their water, and predictably, diarrhoea occurs
much less frequently among these households than in those that do not boil or
This programme addresses the need for promotion of household-based water
disinfection methods utilizing the most available resource. The following
methods will be promoted:
Disinfection by Boiling:
The recommendation for disinfecting water by boiling is to bring the
water to a rolling boil for 10-12 minutes. One minute at 100 degrees C. will
kill most pathogens including cholera and many are killed at 70 degrees C.
The main disadvantages of boiling water are that it uses up fuel and it is
Chlorination is the most widely used method for disinfecting drinking water.
The source of chlorine can be sodium hypochlorite (such as household bleach
or electronically generated from a solution of salt and water), chlorinated
lime, or high test hypochlorite (chlorine tablets). Iodine is another
excellent disinfectant that can be used. Iodine should not be used for
extended periods (longer than a few weeks). Both chlorine and iodine must be
added in sufficient quantities to destroy all pathogens but no so much that
taste is adversely affected. Deciding on the right amount can be difficult
because substances in the water will react with the disinfectant, and the
strength of the disinfectant may decline with time depending on how it is
Households in the state of Maharashtra will know about and utilize the
promoted water disinfection methods using the most available resource.
Consequently diarrhoea and dehydration will occur much less frequently in
these households that disinfect their drinking water. In those households
that do not have the necessary resources to disinfect their drinking water,
the promotion of this program will at least make them aware that their water
is not safe to drink. This knowledge and awareness is essential in moving
towards a sense of priority and urgency to disinfect drinking water. When
they have the available resources necessary, they too can disinfect their
drinking water to decrease incidences of diarrhoea and dehydration.
Programme Management and Implementation:
Promotion of the water disinfection methods and messages about the necessity
for them will be provided to mothers, health care providers, and the general
public through training programmes, TV and radio broadcasts, and instructive
pamphlets. The materials designed for and used in the program will be
pre-tested to ensure clarity and success on a larger scale.
Programme Monitoring and Evaluation:
Initially programme monitoring will ensure that materials are reaching the
appropriate audiences, that broadcasts air when scheduled, and other
technical issues. Eventually, monitoring will ensure that the household-based
water disinfection methods are being conducted properly and will evaluate
recall and the understanding of the targeted audiences. Statistics on those
who know about and are conducting household-based water disinfection will be
evaluated and compared to statistics before program implementation. The
program will be modified as necessary.
Learning and Dissemination:
|Solar water disinfection - the SODIS method - is a simple procedure to disinfect drinking water. Contaminated water is filled in a transparent PET-bottle or glass bottle and exposed to the sun for 6 hours. During this time, the UV-radiation of the sun kills diarrhoea generating pathogens. The SODIS-method helps to prevent diarrhoea and thereby is saving lives of people. This is urgently necessary as still more than 4000 children die every day from the consequences of diarrhoea.
Plastic bottles are recommended for SODIS because the UV rays needed to kill the germs do not penetrate through the inexpensive clear glass bottles, such as those typically found in developing countries. This site also states that PET plastic bottles do not present a significant concern with respect to leeching toxic materials. Look for the recycling symbol 1 or the letters 'PET' on the bottom of the bottle.
“The human right to water entitles everyone to sufficient, safe, acceptable,
physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic uses” –
General Comment No. 15 (2002): The Right to Water
"Water and Sanitation is one of the primary drivers of public health. I
often refer to it as “Health 101”, which means that once we can secure access
to clean water and to adequate sanitation facilities for all people,
irrespective of the difference in their living conditions, a huge battle
against all kinds of diseases will be won."
Dr LEE Jong-wook, Director-General, World Health
“We shall not finally defeat AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, or any of the
other infectious diseases that plague the developing world until we have also
won the battle for safe drinking water, sanitation and basic health care.”
Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary-General
"I am utterly convinced that the
number of water taps per 1,000 population will be an infinitely more meaningful health
indicator than the number of hospital beds per 1,000 population." Dr. Halfdan Mahler, Director-General, World Health Organization
IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre
Resources on Participatory
Approaches and Communication for Water and Sanitation Programming: annotated
Dick de Jong, Veera Mendonca and Silvia Luciani, (Advocacy and Communication
Strategies Working Group, Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council)
This resource package on participatory approaches and communication tools aims
to serve planners, implementors and field workers who are dealing with advocacy,
social mobilization and programme communication for change in water and
environmental sanitation programming. It was prepared on the request of the
Advocacy and Communications Strategies Working Group of the Water Supply and
Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), as part of a support package on
participatory approaches and communication and communication training resources.
Target audience: Politicians, media, sector professionals (all levels)
How to turn unsafe water into drinkable water
If necessary: Remove particles
To remove contamination with solid particles pre-filter the unsafe water with a
piece of cloth or a coffee filter. This method does not remove micro-organism. You still have to disinfect with heat or chemicals.
If possible: Disinfection with heat
Sufficient heat will kill micro-organisms in contaminated water already at a temperature below the boiling point. During the time needed to reach boiling
point the water is heated long enough for disinfection. There is no need to boil water for 5 minutes, 10 minutes, or 20 minutes, as some guide books recommend!
If heat is impossible: Chemical Disinfection
A) With Iodine
Iodine has advantages over chlorine in convenience and efficacy; and the taste
is less offensive. It is safe for short and intermediate length use (3-6 months), but questions remain about its safety in long-term usage. It should not
be used by persons with allergy to iodine, persons with active thyroid disease, or pregnant women. When the iodine is added to the water leave the preparation
for 30 minutes in clear weather or 60 minutes in cloudy weather.
Table of available Iodine preparations:
|Iodine Topical Solution 2%
|Iodine Tincture 2%
|Lugol's Solution 5%
|Povidone-Iodine (Betadine�) 10%
|Tetraglycine hydroperiodide (Globaline�, Potable Aqua�, EDWGT�) 8 mg
B) With chlorine
Any common brand of liquid chlorine bleach contains 5-6 % sodium hypochlorite.
For 1 liter of unsafe water use 4 drops chlorine and wait 30 minutes. For 20 liters of water add 80 drops (1 tablespoon or 5 ml) chlorine. Measuring by drops
is more accurate and the preferred method. When the chlorine is added to the water leave the preparation for 30 minutes in clear weather or 60 minutes in
Dr. Walter Schrader - remedi.org
UN | Water for
Life, 2005-2015 - International Decade for Action
Video: "Water for Life" produced by
Global Visions [English]
Real Player download
for the International "Water for Life" Decade
20 pages 2.1 mb
Water is essential for life. Yet many millions of people around the
world face water shortages. Many millions of children die every year from
water-borne diseases. And drought regularly afflicts some of the world’s
poorest countries. The world needs to respond much better. We need to
increase water efficiency, especially in agriculture. We need to free
women and girls from the daily chore of hauling water, often over great
distances. We must involve them in decision-making on water management. We
need to make sanitation a priority. This is where progress is lagging
Kofi A. Annan, 22 March 2005
| Water, Sanitation and Hygiene links to
Health: Facts and Figures
updated November 2004
- 1.8 million people die every year from diarrhoeal diseases
(including cholera); 90% are children under 5, mostly in developing
- 88% of diarrhoeal disease is attributed to unsafe water supply,
inadequate sanitation and hygiene.
- Improved water supply reduces diarrhoea morbidity by between 6% to
25%, if severe outcomes are included.
- Improved sanitation reduces diarrhoea morbidity by 32%.
- Hygiene interventions including hygiene education and promotion of
hand washing can lead to a reduction of diarrhoeal cases by up to 45%.
- Improvements in drinking-water quality through household water
treatment, such as chlorination at point of use, can lead to a reduction
of diarrhoea episodes by between 35% and 39%.
|Meeting the MDG Drinking Water and Sanitation Target:
A mid-term assessment of progress
26 August, 2004
In adopting the Millennium Development Goals that address the most pressing development issues, countries pledged to halve the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. Yet, more than 1 billion people today lack safe drinking water, and some 2.6 billion - half of the developing world - lack improved sanitation. This publication reports on our progress towards the MDG goal of ensuring environmental sustainability. It seeks to encourage countries slow to meet the target to accelerate action, and highlights areas where efforts need to be strengthened in order to meet the goal.
UN Water Report
Meeting the MDG Drinking Water and Sanitation Target
Why world's taps are running dry
Water Facts: The Big Picture
A statistical view of the world's water - BBC
water hot spots
From disappearing lakes and dwindling rivers to military threats over shared
resources, water is a cause for deep concern in many parts of the world.
Supplies are threatened by overuse, bad management and changing weather
patterns. The pressure will only increase as populations grow.
Water Facts and Figures
- 1.1 billion people in the world do not have access to safe water,
roughly one-sixth of the world’s population.
- 2.4 billion people in the world do not have access to adequate
sanitation, about two-fifths of the world’s population.
- 2.2 million people in developing countries, most of them children,
die every year from diseases associated with lack of access to safe
drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene.
- Some 6,000 children die every day from diseases associated with lack
of access to safe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene
– equivalent to 20 jumbo jets crashing every day.
- At any one time it is estimated that half of the world’s hospital
beds are occupied by patients suffering from water-borne diseases.
- 200 million people in the world are infected with
of whom 20 million suffer severe consequences. The disease is still
found in 74 countries of the world. Scientific studies show that a 77%
reduction of incidence from the disease was achieved through well
designed water and sanitation interventions.
- The average distance that women in Africa and Asia walk to collect
water is 6 km.
- The weight of water that women in Africa and Asia carry on their
heads is the equivalent of your airport luggage allowance (20kg).
- The average person in the developing world uses 10 litres of water a
- The average person in the United Kingdom uses 135 litres of water
- One flush of your toilet uses as much water as the average person in
the developing world uses for a whole day’s washing, cleaning, cooking
- Comparative costs: In Europe $11 billion is spent each year on ice
cream; in USA and Europe, $17 billion is spent on pet food; in Europe
$105 billion is spent annually on alcoholic drinks, ten times the amount
required to ensure water, sanitation and hygiene for all.
- In the past 10 years diarrhoea has killed more children than all the
people lost to armed conflict since World War II.
- In China, India and Indonesia twice as many people are dying from
diarrhoeal diseases as from HIV/AIDS.
- In 1998, 308,000 people died from war in Africa, but more than two
million (six times as many) died of diarrhoeal disease.
- The population of the Kibeira slum in Nairobi, Kenya pay up to five
times the price for a litre of water than the average American citizen.
- An estimated 25% of people in developing country cities use water
vendors purchasing their water at significantly higher prices than piped
- Projections for 2025 indicate that the number of people living in
water-stressed countries will increase to 3 billion – a six-fold
increase. Today, 470 million people live in regions where severe
- The simple act of washing hands with soap and water can reduce
diarrhoeal disease by one-third.
- Following the introduction of the Guatemalan Handwashing Initiative
in 1998, there were 322,000 fewer cases of diarrhoea each year amongst
the 1.5 million children under 5 nationwide in the country's lowest
- In Zambia, one in five children die before their fifth birthday. In
contrast in the UK fewer than 1% of children die before they reach the
age of five.
- A study in Karachi found that people living in areas without
adequate sanitation who had no hygiene education spend six times more on
medical treatments than those with sanitation facilities.
- Waterborne diseases (the consequence of a combination of lack of
clean water supply and inadequate sanitation) cost the Indian economy 73
million working days a year. And a cholera outbreak in Peru in the early
1990s cost the economy US$1 billion in lost tourism and agricultural
exports in just 10 weeks.
- Improved water quality reduces childhood diarrhoea by 15-20% BUT
better hygiene through handwashing and safe food handling reduces it by
35% AND safe disposal of children’s faeces leads to a reduction of
- At any time, 1.5 billion people suffer from parasitic worm
infections stemming from human excreta and solid wastes in the
environment. Intestinal worms can be controlled through better
sanitation, hygiene and water. These parasites can lead to malnutrition,
anaemia and retarded growth, depending upon the severity of the
- It is estimated that pneumonia, diarrhoea, tuberculosis and malaria,
which account for 20% of global disease burden, receive less than 1% of
total public and private funds devoted to health research.
- Ecological sanitation is one option being practised in some
communities in China, Mexico, Vietnam, etc. Excreta contains valuable
nutrients. We produce 4.56 kg nitrogen, 0.55 kg phosphorous, and 1.28 kg
potassium per person per year from faeces and urine. This is enough to
produce wheat and maize for one person every year.
- One gramme of faeces can contains:10,000,000 Viruses, 1,000,000
bacteria, 1,000 parasite cysts, 100 parasite eggs.
For more information, check http://www.wsscc.org/
Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council c/o WHO
Avenue Appia, CH-1211 Geneva 27, Switzerland. Tel. +41 22 791 3544, fax
+41 22 791 4847, e-mail: [email protected]
- 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25: WaterAid
- 6, 25: WELL Technical Brief (http://www.lboro.ac.uk/)
- 16: Water for African Cities presentation, Stockholm Water Symposium,
- 12: Vision 21 – Water For People, March 2000, WSSCC
- 1, 2, 3, 4, 19: WHO/UNICEF/WSSCC Global Water Supply and Sanitation
Assessment 2000 Report
- 17: WELL Planned Work studies 163 and 164.
- 20: Saad� et al (2001) The Story of a Successful Public-Private
Partnership in Central America: Handwashing for Diarroheal Disease
Prevention. BASICS, EHP, UNICEF, USAID and The World Bank
- 27: (Esrey and Andersson (1999), Environmental Sanitation from an
Ecological Systems Approach. See: www.wsscc.org)
- 26: (10/90 Report on Health Research, 2000. Global Forum for Health
- 18: (IHE Newsletter, January 2001)
- 28: (Advocating Sanitation - how, why and when? Sanitation Connection:
Loss of Labor
Those who are ill
cannot work productively, but even among those who are well, tremendous time and energy
are wasted in the daily search for water.
In one village in Burkina Faso, a country in West Africa
mothers walk for two to three hours a day to find a river or stagnant pond, and return to
their homes carrying 25 kilograms(55 lbs.) of water in earthenware jugs on the heads.
In some slums surrounding the cities of developing
countries, families often have to spend 10% of their income to buy water for household
Water and Farming
accounts for 70% of total global fresh water use.
1/3 of today's harvest comes from
17% of the world's cropland that is irrigated. Irrigation thus greatly helps meet the
challenge of feeding an ever-growing population.
Worldwatch Paper 62
can also degrade the soil. Much irrigation water is salty, causing an increased need for
seas are a dramatic consequence of large water withdrawals to meet irrigation and other
water demands. An equally grave threat is the quiet loss of fish and other aquatic life
from rivers and streams whose altered flow patterns can no longer sustain them.
irrigation efficiencies worldwide by just 10% would save enough water to supply all global
residential water uses.
Worldwatch Paper 62
Enough for survival enough for
thirds of our bodies weight and nine tenths of its volume is water.
That is why water essential for life. People can survive for up to two months without
food, but die within three days without water
||A person needs about 5 litres of water each day for
cooking and drinking. But the World Bank estimates that a further 25-45
litres are needed for each person to stay clean and healthy. In many
places the family's water must be fetched each day by women or children.
In Kenya alone,
it is estimated that 3 million women each spend an average of 3 hours a days on the single
task to fetching water - that equals 9 million hours daily.
Is There a Better Way?
The most a woman can carry in comfort is 15 litres, each
litre weighing one kilogram.
If she carries only enough water for her family (husband,
mother, five children) to survive each day, she would need to fetch about 40
But to keep them all clean and healthy she would need to
fetch 200 litres of water every day.
This is why the amount of water consumed depends largely on whether it
has to be carried to the house.
Type of Facility
Approximate consumption per person in 10-litre buckets.
No tap or standpipe 1.2
Meanwhile people in the industrialised world use
22 litres each time a toilet is flushed
150,000 litres to produce a ton of steel
750,000 litres to produce a ton of newsprint
Beyond Oil: The Threat to Food and Fuel in the Coming
Decades, A Summary Report. 1986. Carrying Capacity. Inc., 1325 G Street, NW, Suite 1002,
Washington, D.C. 20005.
Courier, January 1985, a publication of UNESCO, 7 Place
de Fentenoy, 75700 Paris.
Decade Watch, International Drinking Water Supply and
Sanitation Decade, published quarterly by the United Nations Development Programme.
Division of Information, One UN Plaza. New York, NY 10017.
EPA Journal, Vol. 12 No. 7, September 1986 and Vol. 11.
No. 7, September 1985, United States Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Public
Affairs, Washington. DC 20460.
Is There a Better Way? June 1985, United Nations
Development Program, Division of Information, New York, New York 10017.
The New Internationalist, No. 103, September 1981, 175
Carlton St., Toronto. Ontario M5A 2K3; for subscription enquiries: P O Box 1143, Lewiston,
The Real Cost, Richard North, 1986, Chatto and Windus
Ltd., 40 William IV Street. London WC2N 4DF.
State Government News, Vol. 29 No. 5, June 1986, The
Council of State Governments. Iron Works Pike, P O Box 11910, Lexington, KY 40578.
World Military & Social Expenditures 1986, Ruth Leger
Sivard, World Priorities, Inc., Box 25140, Washington, DC 20007. Worldwatch Paper 62
Water: Rethinking Management in an Age of Scarcity, December 1984 and
Worldwatch Paper 64 Investing In Children, June 1985, The
Worldwatch Institute, 1776 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20036.
Office on Global Education, National Council of Churches,
2115 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218- 5755
A Program of the Divisions of Education and Ministry, and Church World Service