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Little work has been done to explore intermediate options between promoting household point-of-use (POU) water treatment technologies (treating drinking water in the home) and expensive city-wide networked water treatment (piped water to individual households). The project addresses this technology gap by developing and evaluating low-cost, in-line chlorination systems that can reduce contamination of drinking water in low-income areas of Dhaka, Bangladesh. This project is in collaboration with Dr. Steve Luby at the International Center for Diarrheal Diseases Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR'B) in Dhaka.Current definitions of “access to improved water supply” are based on a technological standard, one that does not take into account the microbiological quality of water accessed by households. Thus, whereas some 800 million people are considered to be lacking access to “improved” water supplies, the number who lack access to safe water is likely to be much higher. The field of POU water treatment has emerged from the understanding that centralized water supply is prohibitively expensive for low-income country governments to build in the near future. At the same time, following several decades of implementation, evidence suggests that uptake and consistent use of POU products among households is limited. This project seeks to explore low-cost chlorinatin systems as an alternative.
This project is being carried out in collaboration with the NGOs World Vision and Sesame Workshop. The two organizations have developed a 12-week play-based curriculum targeting 6- to 9-year-old students in primary schools of low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The program, which is called WASH Up!, focuses on healthy behaviors related to water management, sanitation and hygiene practices. It is paired with water supply and sanitation infrastructure investments made by World Vision in the school setting. Our team is generating evidence regarding the impacts of these interventions on knowledge and behaviors of students, their teachers, and their caregivers. We are also experimentally testing strategies to increase the transmission of school-acquired knowledge to the household environment through students acting as 'agents of change.'
Between 1/4 and 1/3 of rural water supply infrastructure in sub-Saharan Africa is out of operation at any given time. Unreliable water infrastructure results in higher time costs of water supply and the use of unsafe sources. Our team is collaborating with the non-profit organization ILF who has developed a preventative maintenance service for rural water infrastructure. Using a cluster randomized trial design we will assess effective demand for this service at the community level. We will then follow approximately communities that have opted into the service, along with matched communities who are not receiving it, to evaluate the impacts of professionalized maintenance on the time and money cost of supply, as well as several other well-being related outcomes.
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