As most health problems are related to contaminated water and hygiene customs, access to good quality water is one of the most important factors to improve people’s health. Generally treating and filtering of rainwater seems to be the obvious method for obtaining a certain water quality. However, if contamination results from for example the use of toxic materials or by poor management or maintenance, re-contamination may occur. RAIN believes that by following a step-wise assessment of contamination hazards, a more effective approach in preventing contamination can be reached.
For most small and remote settlements, especially in developing countries, water treatment is both impractical and often unrealistically expensive. The main desired impact of RAIN’s RWH projects is to improve access to water and health, and therefore treatment of water should only be applied if health is at risk. In contrast to most unprotected traditional water sources, drinking rainwater from well-maintained catchments and storage facilities represents a considerable improvement. Water quality standards should therefore be seen within the local context and adapted to national standards. They should not impose a set of unrealistic (western) standards.
Water treatment only makes sense if it is done properly, and if hygienic collection, storage and use of water ensure the prevention of recontamination. Due to the fact that RAIN works in remote areas, a selection has been made of practical and acknowledged treatment and filtering techniques:
- Ceramic pot filter
- Bio-sand filter
- Solar disinfection
For a more detailed description of these methods and more information on rainwater quality, we refer to RAINs Water Quality Guidelines which will soon be published. Relevant information can also be found on www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/ and www.who.int/household_water/.