Health gains from solar water disinfection (SODIS): evaluation of a water quality intervention in Yaoundé, Cameroon

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In developing countries, the burden of diarrhoea is still enormous. One way to reduce transmission of pathogens is by water quality interventions. Solar water disinfection (SODIS) is a low-cost and simple method to improve drinking water quality on household level. This paper evaluates the implementation of SODIS in slum areas of Yaoundé, Cameroon. Promoters trained 2,911 households in the use of SODIS. Two surveys with randomly selected households were conducted before (N = 2,193) and after (N = 783) the intervention. Using a questionnaire, interviewers collected information on the health status of children under five, on liquid consumption, hygiene and other issues. Prior to the intervention, diarrhoea prevalence amounted to 34.3% among children. After the intervention, it remained stable in the control group (31.8%) but dropped to 22.8% in the intervention group. Households fully complying with the intervention exhibited even less diarrhoea prevalence (18.3%) and diarrhoea risk could be reduced by 42.5%. Multivariate analyses revealed that the intervention effects are also observed when other diarrhoea risk factors, such as hygiene and cleanliness of household surroundings, are considered. According to the data, adoption of the method was associated with marital status. Findings suggest health benefits from SODIS use. Further promotional activities in low-income settings are recommended.

Keywords: developing countries, diarrhoea, drinking water, household water treatment, point-of-use, solar water disinfection

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