Microbial quality of improved drinking water sources: evidence from western Kenya and southern Vietnam

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In recent decades, more than 2 billion people have gained access to improved drinking water sources thanks to extensive effort from governments, and public and private sector entities. Despite this progress, many water sector development interventions do not provide access to safe water or fail to be sustained for long-term use. The authors examined drinking water quality of previously implemented water improvement projects in three communities in western Kenya and three communities in southern Vietnam. The cross-sectional study of 219 households included measurements of viable Escherichia coli. High rates of E. coli prevalence in these improved water sources were found in many of the samples. These findings suggest that measures above and beyond the traditional ‘improved source’ definition may be necessary to ensure truly safe water throughout these regions.

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