Household water at IWA Congress
Household water management was a major topic of discussion at the 19-24 September 2004 International Water Association (IWA) Congress in Marrakech. The dominant message from HWTS sessions at the Congress was that household water treatment works, and that household treatment and safe storage contributes to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goal of improving access to safe water.
The session, Innovations in Water Treatment: Protection of Health, 22 September, featured three HWTS presentations. The first introduced the Network, the rationale for its establishment, and its current activities and goals. The second gave an overview of the flurry of recent studies that showed HWTS interventions reducing diarrhoeal disease at levels comparable to sanitation and hygiene measures – and made a call to refine the current dominant paradigm of focusing attention on safe excreta disposal and hygiene measures for greatest health impact. The final presentation further demonstrated the positive health effects of point-of-use water treatment.
A subsequent workshop, ‘Household Water Treatment In Developing Countries – Evidence from the Field’, 23 September, aimed to compare what data are available, by bringing together the researchers and practitioners in this area to share evidence from recent field trials. Twelve presentations addressed the range of candidate treatment technologies, and demonstrated that many of them – including chlorination with safe storage, combined chlorination/flocculation, solar disinfection, and filtration – have been shown to reduce microbial contamination and diarrhoea.
During discussions, it was agreed that more research is needed about relative cost effectiveness. In recognition of this, the Network has commissioned work on this area which will be made available in 2005. In addition, sustainability and user acceptance in the longer term need to be investigated. Finally, local manufacture, distribution and social marketing of household water treatment devices as well as socially and politically acceptable implementation systems need greater attention if the technologies are to be adopted widely.
All in all, Network engagement at IWA was substantive and attracted much interest: 42 people expressed interest in joining the Network , including at least half a dozen from developing countries.