Household Water Treatment

Household Water Treatment

We do try hard to get the household approach into the mainstream reports, and we appreciate that this is having an impact and people are picking up on it. There is definitely a clear sense that household water treatment is gaining momentum globally - driven forward to a large extent by people and organizations in the Network like yourself [Camille Dow Baker, CAWST President & CEO] and CAWST." - Bruce Gordon, World Health Organization

Household water treatment (HWT) has been recognized by the World Health Organization as an affordable and effective solution for addressing water quality. Effective technologies such as Biosand filters and ceramic filters exist. The question is how to disseminate these technologies to the billion-plus that need access to clean drinking water.

Household water treatment has emerged as a viable solution for small and large populations, especially in rural areas. In early 2003 the World Health Organization formed the International Network to Promote Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage with the mission, "To contribute to a significant reduction in waterborne disease, especially among vulnerable populations, by promoting safe household water treatment and safe storage as a key component of water, sanitation and hygiene programmes.

Since 2003, the body of evidence supporting household water treatment as a method to achieve health gains has been growing. A recent meta-analysis by Clasen, et al. in the British Medical Journal found that water quality interventions are effective at reducing diarrheal disease in children under 5 years old and all ages (Clasen, et al. 2007).

As an active member of this Network, CAWST is dedicated to providing information on household water and sanitation technologies that we have reviewed and we believe to be appropriate for poor communities.

Household water treatment enables CAWST and its clients to:

  • Address the most immediate needs at the smallest unit, providing an immediate line of defense against waterborne disease;
  • Empower individual homeowners to make decisions;
  • Target services to those most in need with appropriate, community-driven solutions that meet the immediate need.

The Treatment Process

The main objective of water treatment is to ensure that the water consumed will not produce disease. The most important contaminants to remove from the water are:

  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Helminthes
  • Protozoa

Water treatment is a process, with all three steps recommended for optimal results.

Step 1
Sedimentation: Removes large particles (sand, grit, dirt) and attached bacteria

Step 2
Filtration: Eliminates fine particles and most pathogens

Step 3
Disinfection: Eliminates pathogens


More Info

Environemental Health at USAID and the CDC/Safewater Program have compiled a Bibliography on Point-of-Use Water Disinfection research.

The International Network to Promote Household Water Treatment provides more information about their work in Combating waterborne disease at the household level.

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars has published A Review of Current Implementation Practices for Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage Options in Developing Countries for more information about household water treatment in practice.

Wikipedia has further information on the treatment process.