Household water treatment technologies for microbial removal in Kabale District, Southwestern Uganda
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Health problems associated with the consumption of untreated drinking water is one of the greatest concerns in Kabale District inspite of government’s efforts to provide safe drinking water to the people. Household water treatment and safe storage has been shown to be an effective means of reducing health problems associated with unsafe drinking water. The purpose of this study was to examine household water treatment technologies (HWT) and evaluate their ability to improve microbial quality of drinking water. The specific objectives of the study were to: (i) evaluate the different water sources, household water treatment technologies, and storage options of household drinking water, (ii) establish whether the sources of drinking water influence the type of water treatment technologies used at household level, (iii) determine whether there is significant difference between bacterial counts in household drinking water samples before and after treatment, and (iv) evaluate bacteriological effectiveness of household water treatment technologies used under laboratory conditions. The study employed both analytical and descriptive research designs utilizing mixed methodologies. A multistage sampling technique was used to select 205 respondents, who were used to obtain socio-economic data, using semi-structured questionnaires. Drinking and source water samples were collected from households and sources of drinking water reported with high pathogenic bacteria concentration respectively for Escherichia coli and total coliforms analyses. World Health Organization (WHO) drinking water quality guidelines were used to categorize drinking water in terms of risk level category. Statistical package of social sciences was used for data analysis. Chi square test was used to test whether sources of drinking water influenced the type of water treatment technologies used at household level. A paired sample T-test was used to compare mean difference between bacteria counts in household drinking water samples before and after treatment. A one way ANOVA was used to compare mean differences in bacteria reductions by different HWT in experiment test water samples. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze data. Majority respondents (61.5%) were using springs as their sources of drinking water. Of 46 household treated water samples, 17.4% and 45.7% of water samples fell in no risk category (0 CFU/100 ml) for total coliforms and Escherichia coli respectively. Of 20 experiment treated water samples, 40% and 73% of samples fell in no risk category (0 CFU/100 ml) for total coliforms and Escherichia coli, respectively. Treatment by application of WaterGuard tablets achieved highest total coliforms removal with 99.5% (1.9 log10), whereas WaterGuard tablets, biosand filtration method, and aqua safe tablets achieved complete removal of Escherichia coli (100%) under laboratory conditions. Chi square test yielded no significant relation between drinking water sources and the type of HWT used at household level (P <0.05). The paired samples T-test showed a significant difference between bacteria counts before and after treatment. Significant differences were observed between mean bacteria reductions in experiment test water samples. Spring water in Kabale District was found unsafe to drink unless treated. Effective water treatment products such as WaterGuard and aqua safe tablets should be promoted at local level. Local people should always be involved in simple household testing to reduce doubts on microbial efficiency of newly introduced HWT.