Knowledge of measures to safeguard harvested rainwater quality in rural domestic households

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Given the possibility of waterborne diseases caused by inappropriate rainwater harvesting systems, a survey was conducted in Uganda to assess existing knowledge of both physical and non-physical measures that safeguard harvested rainwater. Households who had received rainwater tanks were assessed on issues related to harvested rainwater quality. The study shows that 84% of respondents were aware of various sources of rainwater contamination, but only 5% were aware that they needed to adjust use of rainwater, depending on whether they cleaned the tank or not. Most of the respondents were not aware that gutter cleaning was necessary to improve water quality. Indeed, as the water from the collection surface is channelled through gutters, a number of measures need to be taken to control the entry of contaminations and subsequent growth of pathogens in the tank, e.g. first flush diverts, installation of filters, chemical use and mesh cleaning. The majority, however, did not take adequate care of the gutters and this impacts on health and social livelihood. Overall, the findings emphasize the need to provide more information to households when installing water harvesting tanks to ensure that the harvested rainwater is of high quality.

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