Drinking water quality and source reliability in rural Ashanti region, Ghana

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Site-specific information about local water sources is an important part of a community-driven effort to improve environmental conditions. The purpose of this assessment was to gather this information for residents of rural villages in Ghana. Sanitary surveys and bacteriological testing for total coliforms and Escherichia coli (EC) using Colilert® were conducted at nearly 80 water sources serving eight villages. A focus group was carried out to assess the desirability and perceived quality of water sources. Standpipes accounted for almost half of the available water sources; however, a third of them were not functioning at the time of the survey. EC bacteria were found in the majority of shallow wells (80%), rivers (67%), and standpipes (61%), as well as 28% of dug wells. Boreholes were free of EC. Residents felt that the standpipes and boreholes produced safe drinking water. Intermittent service and poor water quality from the piped supply has led to limited access to drinking water. The perception of residents, that the water from standpipes is clean and does not need to be treated at home, is particularly troubling in light of the poor bacteriological quality of water from the standpipes.

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