Academic journal article Journal of Health Population and Nutrition

Quality of Drinking-Water at Source and Point-of-Consumption-Drinking Cup as a High Potential Recontamination Risk: A Field Study in Bolivia

Academic journal article Journal of Health Population and Nutrition

Quality of Drinking-Water at Source and Point-of-Consumption-Drinking Cup as a High Potential Recontamination Risk: A Field Study in Bolivia

Article excerpt


Every year, some 1.6 million people die due to diarrhoea because of contaminated drinking-water (1). In developing countries, a majority of households are still deprived of running water; hence, drinking- water must be collected at source, which is often located many hundreds of metres away from home and transported to the household where it is stored until consumption. Researchers have repeatedly observed that the microbiological quality of water in transportation and drinking vessels in the home is lower than that at the source, suggesting that contamination may occur at different stages during the process from collection of water to consumption (2-5). Bacterial counts in water at source and water stored in the household showed that the contamination is greater in cases where the faecal coliform counts in the water at source are low (4). Consequently, in-house contamination may reverse the health benefits that are gained by improvements in community water supply.

The practice of open storage of drinking-water allows for faecal contamination to occur inside the household. Contamination by hands and domestic animals has been shown to be the predominant causes of declining the quality of water (6,7). This pattern has been confirmed by subsequent studies of water contamination in rural Sierra Leone, rural Honduras, South Africa, and Zimbabwe (5,8). While the detrimental effects of in-house contamination are known, the exact point of contamination remains still unclear.

The main goal of the present study was to locate intrinsic and specific points where faecal contamination may occur in the process from the point-ofcollection to the point-of-use. Therefore, we measured the quality of water at all stages along the potential contamination pathway from the water source to the drinking cups used in the household (Fig. 1). Although water can be collected at different water sources, our study focused on water collected from reservoirs, dugwells, or bowser trucks. Subsequently, the water is ultimately transported, may be stored at home in a bucket, and after eventual treatment put in a drinking vessel before consumption. Each of these points within the pathway from source to mouth was investigated.


Study area and population

For this study, participating households were situated in three different geographical regions, i.e. in the highlands (ca. 3750 m.a.s.l.), the valley (ca. 2600 m.a.s.l.), and the lowlands (ca. 250 m.a.s.l.) and in different levels of urbanization (i.e. periurban and rural). The two selected study villages of the highlands were situated in the community of Uncía, i.e. Lawa Lawa and Cotaviri. The three selected sampling sites for the study area in the valley, i.e. Calicantu, Valle Hermoso, and Kara Kara, were situated in the southern zone of Cochabamba, and the one village selected in the lowland, i.e. Núcleo 24, is part of the San Julian district of Santa Cruz. All regions were previously exposed to health and hygiene-promotion campaigns implemented by different civil society organizations and governmental entities. In addition, an ongoing solar water disinfection (SODIS)-promotion campaign had started in all the communities six months before we conducted the study. The SODIS campaign was part of a project comparing different household water-treatment promotion strategies (9).

In rural communities, every second household was systematically selected. In peri-urban areas, participating households were selected by the random- route method (10). Specifically, streets within neighbourhoods were randomly selected, and every third house was enrolled in the study. The nature and purpose of the study were outlined in an initial community group meeting and individually explained in detail to household members during enrollment.

Participants provided verbal consent for their participation in the study. We sampled 27 rural households in the highlands, 25 rural households in the lowland, and 29 semi-urban households in the valley. …

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