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Safe Water System Handbook

An Adobe Acrobat version of this handbook can be viewed here.

Safe Water Systems for the Developing World:
A Handbook for Implementing Household-Based Water Treatment and Safe Storage Projects

Department of Health & Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


    Safe Water Systems for the Developing World: A Handbook for
Implementing Household-Based Water Treatment and Safe Storage
was produced by the CARE/CDC Health Initiative, the CDC Foundation, CARE USA, the Estes Park Rotary Club and the Gangarosa International Health Foundation through a contract with Patricia Whitesell Shirey, ACT International, Atlanta, Ga. USA.

Technical advisor: Robert Quick, MD, MPH
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Original graphics: Robert Hobbs
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Layout and cover design: Jody Blumberg, Sara Cote
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Use of trade names and commercial sources is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the United States Department of Health and Human Services.



Tables of Contents





Steps for a Safe Water System Project

1.0 - Gather background data on the need, target
population, and feasibility of a water intervention

2.0 - Decide to do a project and set project objectives

2.1 - Consider the major steps and resources required to begin and sustain a project

2.2 - Specify overall goals of a Safe Water System

2.3 - Select target population, appropriate pilot project site and area for later expansion

2.4 - Specify measurable, specific objectives of the project

3.0 - Write a proposal to donors for a Safe Water System Project

4.0 - Assemble team to do the project

5.0 - Decide on products

5.1 - Choose a production method for disinfectant

5.2 - Choose bottles for disinfectant solution

5.3 - Choose a vessel for water storage in the home

5.4 - Choose process or product to use if water is turbid

6.0 - Decide on methods of distribution

6.1 - Consider possible methods of distribution including existing systems or infrastructures

6.2 - Assess alternate distribution methods for the project

6.3 - Select methods of distribution and plan them in more detail

7.0 - Plan strategy for changing behavior

7.1 - Conduct formative research

7.2 - Identify specific target audiences

7.3 - Plan positioning (e.g., brand name product with logo to appeal to mothers)

7.4 - Plan key messages

7.5 - Select methods for behavior change and specify communication channels

7.6 - Specify communication materials needed (e.g., label with dosing instructions)

8.0 - Plan for cost recovery

8.1 - Decide on an approach to cost recovery

8.2 - Set the prices of water storage vessels and disinfectant

8.3 - Plan any subsidies or special payment methods

8.4 - Plan how funds will be managed

9.0 - Prepare for production, procurement and distribution of products

9.1 - Set up production of vessels or procure vessels

9.2 - Set up production of disinfectant bottles, caps and labeling or procure a source

9.3 - Set up production of disinfectant or procure a source of supply

9.4 - Set up distribution system for products

9.5 - List the activities and the desired outputs (quantities)

10.0 - Prepare to implement the behavior change strategy

10.1 - Develop brand name and logo

10.2 - Develop key messages

10.3 - Make detailed plans for implementing the methods for behavior change

10.4 - Plan training of staff to implement behavior change methods

10.5 - Develop communication materials and training materials

10.6 - Arrange use of channels selected

10.7 - Pretest messages and materials

10.8 - Produce and distribute materials

10.9 - Train persons who will implement the behavior change methods

10.10 - Plan additional behavior change interventions, if possible

10.11 - List the activities related to behavior change and desired outputs (quantities)

11.0 - Plan monitoring and evaluation of the project

11.1 - Identify the activities/indicators/outcome measures to be monitored

11.2 - Decide how the findings will be acted on

11.3 - Identify sources for monitoring data and data collection methods

11.4 - Schedule monitoring

11.5 - Design and pre-test simple forms and questionnaires for recording information

11.6 - Review the project objectives and relevant project activities in terms of expected effects

11.7 - Identify indicators/outcome measures to evaluate

11.8 - Determine sources of data for evaluation and data collection methods

11.9 - Plan for data gathering including schedule and staff

12.0 - Implement the project

12.1 - Produce and distribute vessels, disinfectant, and educational/promotional materials

12.2 - Launch the pilot project (special event)

12.3 - Supervise and support activities to implement the behavior
change strategy and sell vessels and disinfectant through
distribution systems as planned; monitor the activities

12.4 - Continue supplying bottles of disinfectant

12.5 - Evaluate the pilot project

12.6 - Implement the project on a larger scale


Alternative Water Treatment Technologies




A. Collecting background data: Sample questionnaire on knowledge and practices

B. Developing a proposal for a Safe Water System project

C. How to test concentration of freshly-produced sodium hypochlorite for quality assurance

Hypochlorite Production Record

D. Planning worksheets:

Worksheet for assessing possible household water storage vessels

Worksheet for assessing possible distribution methods

E. Examples of educational and promotional materials

F. Training in motivational interviewing

G. Formative research

Sample focus group discussion questions about water treatment and storage

Sample focus group discussion guide for brand name, logo, and slogan

H. Potential channels of communication

I. Example training curriculum from Zambia: Clorin home water chlorination


List of Figures

1. Background data for a Safe Water System project

2. Example objectives for a Safe Water System project

3. Example outline for a proposal

4. Comparison of methods for production of disinfectant solution

5. Comparison of possible vessels for water storage

6. Example worksheet for assessing possible household water storage vessels

7. Example worksheet to assess possible distribution methods

8. Formative research needs for planning for behavior change

9. Package labels

10. Steps of a water vessel for work project

11. Requirements for installation and operation of hypochlorite generators

12. Procedure for production of hypochlorite solution

13. Production and distribution activities to lead to achievement of the objectives

14. Key messages or topics for education and promotion

15. Characteristics of good educational and promotional materials

16. Sales and behavior change activities to lead to achievement of the objectives

17. Example: Plan for monitoring

18. Example: Plan for evaluation

19. Household treatment systems: Advantages and constraints

20. Household treatment systems: Costs


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center for Infectious Diseases
Division of Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases
Foodborne and Diarrheal Diseases Branch


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