Quenching the thirst for safe water

PATH’s work to bring safer water to households and communities

The World Health Organization reports that 880 million people worldwide rely on unimproved water sources for their drinking water (e.g., surface water such as lakes, rivers, dams, or from unprotected dug wells or springs). Even more poignant, experts estimate that 1.3 million children—nearly 3,500 per day—die each year from preventable diarrheal diseases.

Indian boy carries a water jug on his head.

880 million rely on unimproved water sources for drinking. Photo: PATH.

The Safe Water Project explores innovative ways to improve access to and interest in appropriate water treatment products and methods among low-income communities. Offering safe water is just one of the “WASH” (water, air, sanitation, and hygiene) interventions that we know will lead to healthier households in the developing world. PATH’s work in water has three areas of focus, household water treatment, community water treatment, and water quality testing.

Household water treatment

Starting in 2006, under the Safe Water Project (funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), PATH began exploring how commercial-market forces could be used to supply water treatment products to low-income households. Through extensive collaborations with commercial partners on three continents, we tested new strategies, new products, and new approaches to achieve better uptake and long-term use of household water treatment solutions. Our Perspectives magazine summarizes the most salient learnings from the project and directs readers to more in-depth resources online. Read more »

Community water treatment

Reaching beyond the household to the small-community level, PATH began investigating ways to increase access to safe water using chemical disinfection with chlorine—one of the most effective and low-cost methods to make water safe. Community water projects work to introduce a simple, easy-to-use, chlorine-treatment solution to the developing world. PATH, in collaboration with Cascade Designs, Inc. (CDI), helped develop a compelling electrochlorination product, the SE200, for use in developing-world, small-community settings. Read more »

Water quality testing

PATH is part of an international, multidisciplinary consortium led by the University of Bristol aimed at delivering a water test that can be widely used in developing countries. The Aquatest Research Programme is also working to design, develop, and create a plan for sustainable manufacturing and plan distribution and marketing for the Aquatest water-test device. Read more »

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