Point-of-use water treatment systems in Guyana

Infectious diarrhoeal disease is a major health concern globally, and one method of its spread is through contaminated drinking water. Point-of-use water treatment (POU) (also known as household water treatment), is promoted by organizations such as the the World Health Organization as an intermediate step towards meeting the target of providing the world with safe drinking water in areas where it is presently uneconomical to provide a centralized treatment and distribution system, in order to ensure pathogen-free water to each household.

However, the potential for large-scale implementation of POU is still uncertain, as is the long-term sustainability of POU projects. Therefore, the primary research question of this study looks at the acceptability and effectiveness of point-of-use water treatment systems in the community of St. Cuthbert’s Mission, Guyana, as it relates to the continued independent usage of the system once the implementing agency has left. The POU selected for use in this study include Biosand filters, ceramic filters, and chlorine addition.

Preliminary results suggest a higher rate of adoption of the ceramic filter in St. Cuthbert's; the sustained rate of adoption will be confirmed through a final round of interviews and sampling of volunteer households in May/June 2010. Results also indicate a lower performance of the Biosand filter in terms of effectiveness in removing thermotolerant coliforms. Laboratory trials will be performed in order to explore plausible causes for this unexpected result.

The results of this research will complement ongoing research from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and Guyana Water Inc. (GWI) on POU in Guyana, and provide a greater understanding of the long term effectiveness of POU within the Guyanese Amerindian cultural context.

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