Most of the educational challenges in hygiene and sanitation management spring from the fact that most people who need to manage their own water sources live in the rural areas, or are poor, whether they be in urban areas or in rural areas.

A. Water purification

Boiling is the easiest method to purify water, however when it comes to the majority of the people who need to boil there water for purification, most of them are poor, and cannot afford the fuel to just boil drinking water. It takes hours to gather firewood for a source of fire, and most poor people would rather use the fuel economically than “waste” it on boiling water. Therefore, alternatives that are cheaper can be sort to make poor people not choose between purifying water through boiling and staying disease free.

Water must also be boiled to a certain temperature to ensure that pathogens are dead. Most people just bring water to the boil and then take it out, drinking water should boil for about 10 minutes to be safe, other people suggest that it should be over 20 minutes to be considered safe ( 5-20 min)


Filtering at the source using earth

One can dig a hole about two to four feet from the water source and then allow the hole to fill with water. This will most probably improve the purity of the water but it does not guarantee that the water is safe.

Building a water filter through sand and gravel

One can use a simple container like a jerry can and fill it with layers of sand, grass and charcoal that trap particles that are suspended in the water. Layering the materials from bigger gravel to the finest sand will help trap more impurities. Another container is placed at the collecting end.


Using of clear plastic water bottles and solar panels as discussed in the successful programs below.

B. Separating the sewage water from the water mains and drainage problems In most cities, it is the responsibility of the government to mind the drainage areas and sewage plants. However, in many parts of the world, the government has failed its people thus the responsibility of water management is dependent on the residents of a given community to provide such services for themselves. Most residents therefore dig trenches that lead from there property and into the street or any other part of the land that they are not solely “responsible for”. This is challenging because the community has to come together to ensure a workable drainage for a village. When the community is big, it is even more challenging and it might require the municipal council to do the work.

The solution for this problem has been discussed under solutions. However, the solution needs space for the building of cesspits to allow water to sip into the ground in away that will not contaminate the underground water.

C. Protection of water catchment areas

Protection of water sources has challenged people over the years. This is so because some water sources start in other countries, or across ethnic borderlines. Therefore, the people downstream of the water source get water that is contaminated by the people upstream. Educating people on the importance of water catchment protection will reduce its contamination and abuse.

Other water catchment areas like roof catchment and underground water must also be made safe. Roof water is full of impurities through it might be clean. Thus, even roof water must be sanitized to make it safe for consumption.

D. Dumping problem

Dumping in water bodies is a common trend in many poor countries. It is challenging to find alternative dumping sites when the government does not provide the services. This does not mean, however that the poor people should dump in their water sources or in unsanitary manner. There are easy ways of getting rid of solid waste. These ways include burying the waste in a pit, burning the waste, and recycling the waste through sorting out the reusable waste and putting the others in a compost pit.

Successful Programs Proven In Specific Villages, Countries, Cultures

i. Three pot system ( leaving water to stand and sediment) After fetching the water, just let it stand in the container so the large particles can settle to the bottom of the container then pour the clearer water into another container. Then let it stand and sediment then pour onto the third container or pot. This is where the name three-pot system comes from.

ii. Boiling

Boiling water is the best method of killing pathogens. Water experts’ believe that after bring water to the boiling point; it should be left to boil for at least five minutes to ensure that pathogens are dead. Others suggest boiling between five to twenty minutes. However, after boiling the water, the water should be covered when cooling and stored in a clean safe container to avoid recontamination.

iii. Straining using muslin cloth

Filtering water using a clean cloth may reduce the disease causing agents especially the bacteria that causes cholera by half. Filtering using clean cloth is easy and affordable. Firmly tie the strain cloth around the container so that unstrained water does not pour into the collecting container. The collecting container should be clean to ensure that there is no recontamination of the strained water.

iv. Disinfecting with Chlorine

Chlorine is readily available in most parts of the world. Chlorine oxidizes the water and killing the harmful disease causing pathogens. Chlorine is effective in destroying pathogens that cause diseases like Cholera, typhoid, amoebic dysentery, gastroenteritis, shigellosis, salmonellosis, and Campylobacter enteritis, amongst many others. It is important to note however that the contact time of chlorine and the water is paramount; therefore, after administering chlorine in the water, it should be given enough time to react with the organisms and to settle. Most household chlorine for water treatment come with instruction son how much to use for a given volume of water.

v. Solar treatment of water

Ultra Violet rays (UV rays) with a wavelength of between 315-400 nanometer (nm) have been proven to destroy microorganisms. In most dry areas where water is scarce and its availability does not mean that it is safe for consumption, this would be an effective method of ensuring that water is a bit safe to drink. Putting the water in clear container and leaving the container in the sun would do much good. Example that is currently being promoted is using the two-liter coca cola bottle. This has been proven to work because of the large surface area to volume ratio that the bottle offers for the UV rays to travel through the water. This method is more affordable to poor people who cannot afford to “waste” fuel on boiling water for consumption.

vi. Life straw

The Life Straw is a portable water purification tool that cleanses surface water and makes it safe for human consumption. It is just 25 cm long and 29 mm in diameter and can be hung around the neck for ready use. It is used in places where water is unsafe to remove harmful microorganisms that may cause diseases.

External Links to related projects and references


Fawell, K. Bailey, J. Chilton, E. Dahi,L. Fewtrell and Y. Magara (2006) Fluoride in Drinking-water. WHO publication.

United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Strategies for linking water and sanitation programs to child survival. Washington, D.C., USAID, Sep. 1990. p. 1-62

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