Tag Archives: HWTS

Water conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

I am in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia again! This marks my fourth or fifth visit in the last six months. On this trip, I’ll be attending an international water conference to deliver a presentation and a training workshop on monitoring and evaluating programs to improve access to safe drinking water. Monitoring and evaluation activities are methods used to verify that programs are working the way they are supposed to work and giving people the safe drinking water they need. Support for these activities has been provided by Aqua for All, Consultant Henk Holtslag, Tulip Addis Water Filter (a company I described in a recent blog post), Procter & Gamble, World Health Organization and UNICEF.


Effectively Monitoring & Evaluating
Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage
Friday, April 12, 9:00am-12:30pm at the Hilton Hotel Addis Ababa

BACKGROUND: In 2012, the World Health Organization and UNICEF launched a new toolkit on conducting monitoring and evaluation activities for household water treatment and safe storage (“HWTS”) programmes. HWTS methods, when used effectively and consistently, can reduce the burden of diarrhoeal disease by improving and maintaining the quality of household drinking water through safe collection, transport, handling, treatment, and storage practices. The toolkit provides a harmonised set of tools and indicators to assist in programme monitoring and evaluation and ensure that the full health impact potential of HWTS can be achieved.

OVERVIEW: This session is an introductory workshop on effectively monitoring and evaluating household water treatment and safe storage. Workshop activities will be designed to cater to those who are interested to learn the basic practices of starting and implementing monitoring and evaluation activities for HWTS, either as an intervention within a WASH programme or broader communicable disease prevention efforts.

GOAL: The workshop aims to introduce participants to the methods, indicators and objectives of monitoring household water treatment and safe storage and provide an interactive forum for learning about how to use the toolkit, exchanging ideas and addressing questions and challenges to implementation.

DESIRED LEARNING OUTCOMES:  This three-hour workshop will enable participants to understand:

  1. Importance of M&E and HWTS, within WASH and broader health programs.
  2. Importance of achieving correct, consistent and effective use of HWTS.
  3. How to use the 20 harmonised indicators for monitoring and evaluating HWTS.
  4. How to integrate M&E data into program design and use it to improve program implementation and effectiveness.

WHO SHOULD PARTICIPATE: This session is designed for those who are interested in improving or evaluating the effectiveness of a program to promote and / or implement HWTS so as to improve access to safe drinking-water. This may include public health officers, WASH practitioners from local and international NGOs, donors, policy-makers, manufacturers, and regulators. There is no need to have any prior experience with monitoring & evaluation or HWTS to participate in this session. Participation will be limited to 30 people.

MATERIALS NEEDED: Pens and notepads will be provided. Participants should come prepared to share their experiences, challenges and questions and engage with others in dialogue and interactive activities. All who complete the session will receive a printed and bound copy of the M&E toolkit which they can take home with them. Coffee, tea and water will be provided.

REGISTER ONLINE: http://householdwatertreatmentandsafestorage.eventbrite.com

Ghana National Strategy for Household Water Treatment

HWTS Strategy December 2012 Version - UNICEF HQ comments plus Rowe commentsGood news from West Africa! The Government of Ghana is making further progress on its “National Strategy on Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage”. This follows a series of efforts since 2010, which included an assessment commissioned by UNICEF, an initial draft to kick off the strategy development process, and several stakeholder consultations, including one in June 2012. This is an important step to empowering households to improve the quality of their drinking water, in a country where as many as 5 million people are at risk of water-related diseases from the simple act of quenching their thirst. Now, the government plans another regional workshop and is seeking additional input to make the strategy as focused and effective as possible. As part of my work with the International Network on Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage, I’ll have an opportunity to provide input to their plans over the next few months.

For those unfamiliar with the practice, household [or, point-of-use] water treatment and safe storage (HWTS) involves the application of technologies or techniques to improve the quality of drinking water in the home, or other places where water is consumed, such as schools and health clinics. Many may think of boiling when they think of water purification. Although boiling is effective if done properly, but it can also be expensive and sometimes causes other health problems, such as injuries from burns, or lead to respiratory infections if the water is boiled over an open (and smoky) fire inside the home. Other popular techniques of water purification include adding chlorine, using a filter and even solar disinfection. The “safe storage” part of HWTS comes from keeping water in clean, covered containers to makes sure it stays safe and does not get re-contaminated by dirty flies or fingers in places they shouldn’t be. :)

Many firms (for-profit, non-profit and social enterprise) around the world have come up with solutions to purify dirty drinking water. Some such companies include Procter & Gamble (P&G Purifier of Water), Vestergaard-Frandsen (the LifeStraw), Basic Water Needs (the Tulip Filter) and Ecofiltro.

In countries where not everyone has access to tap water, there are real concerns about the quality of drinking water. For example, in Ghana, about 9% of people living in cities draw water from surface sources such as lakes, ponds or unprotected wells or boreholes (JMP, 2012). In rural areas, it is much worse: about 31% of people draw water from such sources (JMP, 2012). Nationwide, that means about 5 million people (20% of the population) drink water from sources considered unsafe.

Drinking contaminated water often leads to killer diseases, the brunt of which is borne by children. In Ghana, about 7% of all deaths in children under five years old are due to diarrhoea (A Promise Renewed, 2012). Published research has shown that HWTS can reduce the incidence of diarrhoea by up to 47% (Fewtrell et al, 2005; Clasen et al, 2006; Waddington et al, 2009). Although child mortality in many Sub-Saharan African countries has declined in recent years, it remains too high.

When I first began learning more about the water crisis years ago, it struck me as incredible that hundreds of thousands (at least) of children die every year from preventable diarrhoea. Working on improving child survival has become one of my life’s passions and was the reason for why I re-focused my career on learning about and supporting efforts to increase access to safe water through methods such as HWTS.

Stay tuned to this page for more updates on Ghana’s progress in the coming months!


Commercial approach to ceramic water filters in Ethiopia

Getaw Cherinet and the Tulip siphon water filter, in Addis Ababa, January 2013

During my recent visit to Addis Ababa, I met with Tulip Addis Water Filter, a private company selling ceramic water filters in Ethiopia since 2010. Its product, known as the “Tulip” water filter, is a siphon device with a ceramic element. The company reports a brisk business in meeting the programmatic needs of local and international NGOs, with sales across all nine of Ethiopia’s regions and total volume of approximately 60,000 filters a year.

The filter, manufactured by Basic Water Needs of India, is sold by other companies in at least half a dozen countries around the world, including Malawi and Mozambique where it has recently been introduced by local entrepreneurs. Depending on distribution and marketing costs, the retail price tends to range from US$15 to US$25.

Although considered a relatively low-cost product, Tulip Addis General Manager Getaw Cherinet acknowledges that his filter is still unaffordable to many low-income earners. “Most of my customers are actually NGOs who give away the filters or sell them at reduced prices in order to better serve populations in need”, he says. In order to lower the retail cost further, the company has plans to build a factory and produce the ceramic element locally, in partnership with the manufacturer. With the additional production capacity, the company plans to expand into other East African markets and introduce a table-top version of the filter to make it more aesthetically pleasing and user-friendly. An added benefit of investing in a local production facility is to improve the availability of spare parts. Getaw also mentioned that he recently partnered on a proposal to evaluate the use of targeted vouchers to stimulate purchase by low-income families, an innovation which has been discussed at recent events of the International Network on Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage.

The Tulip filter has a useful life of about 7000L of drinking water and can produce filtered water at a flow rate of about 5 litres per hour. Although no peer-reviewed studies have been published on the microbiological effectiveness of the device, Tulip Addis Water Filter says their product has been approved by government authorities prior to introduction to the market. Getaw agreed that having independent researchers monitor and evaluate his product’s performance in the field and publish the findings in a journal would be a useful addition to the evidence base and help him better market his product. He welcomed researchers who might be interested in such a study.

Getaw also shared his view on key challenges to doing business in the Ethiopian market. “There is a foreign currency shortage in Ethiopia”, he says, “This makes it difficult for vendors to obtain bank-guaranteed letters of credit with which they could purchase at higher volume from overseas. This is one of the main incentives for me to invest in a local production facility.” In addition, he reports that his clients often face funding constraints or delays making it difficult for him to reliably predict sales volume and forecast inventory requirements.

For those interested to learn more about Tulip Addis Water Filter including researchers interested in an evaluation, please contact Getaw Cherinet (getawmc@live.com).

Back in Lilongwe, Malawi

I am back in Lilongwe, Malawi after a 3-month travel hiatus. As part of my work with the Water Institute at UNC, I will be based here for the next four months, collaborating with WHO, UNICEF and the Government of Malawi on increasing access to safe drinking water. Malawi is a land-locked country of 14 million people located in Southern Africa. It is bordered on the south and the east by Mozambique, on the north by Tanzania and on the west by Zambia. The country’s most significant geographic feature is Lake Malawi, the third largest freshwater lake in Africa and a UNESCO World Heritage site. For past blog posts about my time in Malawi, click here. For posts about my work in water, click here.

Unexpected overnight in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

While en route to Lilongwe, Malawi, a travel glitch sidelined me in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for a night. I’m taking advantage of the time here by meeting with a local company that sells water filters and has plans for an East Africa expansion. The information I glean will be published in the next issue of my newsletter on household water treatment.

This is not the first time I have had travel trouble at Addis Ababa’s airport. In September, I tried to stop over here and was refused a visa. You can read that story here. So when I was re-booked for the following day’s flight, I crossed my fingers I would not have to sleep overnight in the airport.

But thanks to the efforts of a helpful Ethiopian Airlines transfer desk employee named Thomas Dejene, I was able to quickly secure a transit visa and overnight stay at the Panorama Hotel. The entire process took less than 20 minutes. The transit visa has a total cost of US$70 which comprises a visa processing fee of US$20 and hotel accommodation cost of US$50. (This is quite inexpensive for Addis Ababa.) The bonus? Breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as transport to and from the airport is included. Not a bad deal at all. Another plus: the transit visa is a simple stamp (a tourist visa takes up at least one whole passport page). Amesegenallo Thomas!

Organising a transit visa may not always be this easy. My previous experience suggests some rules apply, such as staying in an Ethiopian Airlines approved hotel and having no alternative flight options to your final destination in the event of a missed or cancelled flight. Contact the Ethiopian consulate or embassy nearest you well ahead of your planned travel and make sure you are informed. Wikipedia offers a list of Ethiopia’s worldwide diplomatic missions.

Presentation to Rotary Club of Nairobi East

Click this image to download my presentation and speaking notes in PDF format (2.4MB)

The Rotary Club of Nairobi East recently invited me to give a presentation to their club on my Peace Fellowship experience and work in the water sector.

By way of background, the Peace Fellowship is a generous scholarship program funded by the Rotary Foundation. Every year the Foundation chooses 60 mid-career professionals from around the globe to undertake postgrad study in a chosen field (whether economics, education, journalism, law, or in my case – public health) at selected universities in different countries. These studies must also focus on how we can make a constructive contribution to peace.

For my Fellowship, I chose to undertake a Master of Public Health at the University of North Carolina. In my presentations to Rotary Clubs I talk about this experience and share some of what I learned about increasing access to safe water for vulnerable populations such as people living with HIV, orphans and vulnerable children, pregnant mothers and people displaced by conflict or natural disasters. If time permits, I also give a demonstration of water purification methods.

My presentation focused on three key points (you can download the slides here). Firstly, although access to improved and safer sources of water is increasing worldwide, it is not reaching those who need it most, such as those who live in rural areas or who are living on extremely low incomes; secondly, home-based treatment and safe storage of drinking water are proven public health interventions (and a component of many Rotary water projects) which address this problem but there is a still huge unmet need; and finally, clean water is not just important for health but can also contribute to the broader social and economic progress of communities (and ultimately increased peace) which is why water is one of Rotary’s six core areas of focus.

Malawi works to ensure safe water at home

The Ministry of Health of Malawi hosted a meeting yesterday morning to seek input on a “zero draft” of its national action plan on home-based water treatment and safe storage. In Malawi about 20% of the population obtains their drinking water from unsafe sources: lakes, rivers, or unprotected wells or natural springs. The microscopic creatures living in the water can lead to diarrhoeal diseases such as cholera, dysentery and typhoid which kill more than 1.5 million people worldwide every year, most of these children, and Malawi is no exception to this global trend. Treating the water at home through filtration, chlorine or other means and storing it safely in a proper container afterwards can improve the quality of the water and reduce the chances of getting sick with diarrhoea by up to 47%.

In addition to household treatment of drinking water, there are two other key practices that can reduce the burden of diarrhoeal disease: hand-washing with soap and the safe disposal of human faeces. The Government of Malawi has developed national approaches on both: the National Handwashing Campaign and the Open Defecation Free Strategy, leaving household water treatment as a key gap to be addressed and providing the impetus for the current initiative.

Efforts to develop a national action plan began earlier this year at a workshop hosted by the World Health Organization and UNICEF in Mozambique. Following the workshop I was invited to Malawi by the government to provide technical assistance to their work in this area. At the moment, the technical assistance consists chiefly of a review of the status of household water treatment in Malawi, specifically the policy environment, key stakeholders, current practices and products available in the market. The next step is to provide some input into the drafting of the action plan and help the Ministry implement it in months to come. This work has been generously funded by Aqua for All, a Dutch NGO, with input and support from 300in6, a safe water advocacy group.

The Malawi Ministry of Health seeking input on its draft national action plan on household water treatment


Household Water Newsletter for July 2012

Here is an excerpt from my latest monthly newsletter on global news in the point-of-use water treatment sector. Point-of-use water treatment and safe storage is a process used by millions of people around the world to improve the quality of their drinking water to reduce the risk of contracting diarrhoeal diseases such as cholera, typhoid and dysentery. These diseases kill between 1.5 million and 2 million people a year.

International Network on Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage
Newsletter, July 2012

Greetings Colleagues,

Continue reading Household Water Newsletter for July 2012

Household Water Newsletter for May 2012

Here is an excerpt from my latest monthly newsletter on global news in the point-of-use water treatment sector.

International Network on Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage
Newsletter, May 2012

Greetings all,

This month I would like to call your attention to three items in our newsletter where we are asking for your assistance:

UNICEF Global Mapping Project: UNICEF is currently mapping the enabling environment, HWTS programming, and the general status of HWTS in each country and is asking for you to contribute your knowledge about one or more countries in an online surveywhich will take no more than 10 minutes. The output will be a country profile that will enable UNICEF and Network members to devise country and regional support strategies. Click for more details

Rotary Fellowship and Water Institute: Until July 1, Rotary is inviting applications for its Peace Fellowship programme, and has teamed up with the Water Institute at UNC to identify candidates who may qualify from a fully-funded two year scholarship for graduate studies on topics related to water, sanitation, and hygiene. Do you know someone in the field who would be interested?Click for more details

INHWTS South African Regional Workshop, Maputo, Mozambique: From June 20-22, the Network in collaboration with the Government of Mozambique is hosting a workshop focused on development and implementation of HWTS policies and strategies for three Southern African countries (Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia). Are you working in these countries or know someone who is?Click for more details

Thanks for your assistance with these initiatives. Please let us know if you have any questions.

Best regards,

Ryan Rowe

Contents of this Newsletter

Click the underlined items to skip to that section

Workshop in Mozambique
UNICEF Mapping Project
Medentech Launches Product
P&G Announces Water Newsletter
Antenna Guidance on Chlorine Stabilisation

Antenna Video Description of Watasol
Carbon Finance for Health

Recent Events
Atlanta Summit on Health & Water

UN Bi-monthly review on water/sanitation
Drinking Water Quality Blog Updates

Education, Work, and Funding Opportunities
Living Water International Jobs
Rotary Scholarships
CAWST HWTS Workshops

Event Calendar


To read the rest of the newsletter, visit http://waterinstitute.unc.edu/hwts/newsletter/may2012.

Canadian Expat Network: Ryan Rowe, Making a Difference

The Canadian Expat Network, an online resource for Canadians living abroad, expressed interest in hearing more about my activities in the water sector. This is the first article in a three-part series and was published online at http://www.canadianexpatnetwork.com/public/1142.cfm in May 2012. Photos are my own.

Canadian Expat Ryan Rowe, Making a Difference

By Ryan Rowe, MBA, MPH

WHO/UNICEF International Network on Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage
Based at the Water Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

I took a deep breath and jumped over the gutter of raw sewage. Landing on the other side, my foot splashed down into a puddle, spraying my shoes and ankles. I grimaced and wiped the sweat from my forehead. The smell of an open fire, rubbish, and human waste permeated the air and burned my nostrils. Kelvin, the six year old boy taking me to his home, ran ahead like an eager rabbit, bounding through a minefield of more foul ditches. I tried my best to keep up with this adventurous and fearless child but within seconds lost sight of him. Stopping, I glanced around, unsure where to go or what to do. Locals stared at me as I stood there, clearly out of place. Schoolchildren walking by looked at me with big smiles and cried “Mzungu! Mzungu! How are you?”

Like many of the world’s urban slums, the community of Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya has little to no water and sanitation infrastructure, at least not the type that you and I are used to. The United Nations estimates about 800 million people lack access to clean drinking water and nearly 3 billion do not have adequate toilet systems. In these settings, people frequently get sick from dirty water and without a functioning toilet the environment is further contaminated, a vicious cycle.

On my first visit to Kibera in 2009, I learned about Carolina for Kibera (CFK), an award-winning non-profit which works on health, education, and entrepreneurship initiatives. The organization is run by local leaders and supported by faculty and students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill through research and fundraising efforts. CFK invited me to participate in their community clean-up program, during which local youth clean out Kibera’s clogged and makeshift sewage trenches (see photo inset) in exchange for points to play football, a very popular sport in Kenya. More importantly, the program improves living conditions and teaches young people how to work and play together. Unemployment is as high as 40% in Kibera and many children cannot afford to go to school, so the program provides kids the opportunity to develop leadership skills and the confidence to pursue their hopes and dreams in the face of such challenges.

The practical impact of UNC’s work in health and development is one reason why it is a global leader in the field of public health. And amazingly, I was lucky enough to win a fully funded Rotary Peace Fellowship to pursue a two year master’s degree at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. My activities here have focused on behavioural and policy solutions to the water and sanitation problems faced by communities like Kibera. Early in my degree, I took a part-time research position with UNC’s Water Institute, allowing me to work closely with WHO, UNICEF, and experts from all over the world. My main area of focus is on improving the quality of drinking water, so as to reduce diarrhoea in young children and save lives. One way to do this is to treat drinking water at the point-of-use or household level, using methods such as ceramic or sand filtration, solar disinfection, or chlorination. Such methods are particularly important in schools, clinics, and the homes of the sick, poor, or distressed, as these are the people who bear the burden of disease.

For a young child, diarrhea can be lethal, especially when it’s persistent, lasting for weeks at a time. It leads to dehydration as their bodies fail to absorb essential nutrients needed for their development and growth. Constantly thirsty, they have no choice but to turn once again to a contaminated water supply which perpetuates sickness. It doesn’t take long before children become malnourished — they become subject to frequent infections, and the development of their bodies and brains is impaired. Without remedial treatment, they will be permanently affected, and in the most serious cases die. About 1.5 million children globally die every year from preventable diarrheal diseases.

Halfway through my studies, in the summer of 2011, CFK and local residents welcomed me back to Kibera, giving me the opportunity to learn more about point-of-use and household water treatment in practice. In my next write-up, I’ll share with you a bit more about my work there and what I learned. In the meantime, please feel free to contact me with any questions at ryanrowe@unc.edu or visit http://www.who.int/household_water/en/.

Ryan Rowe is originally from Montreal, Canada and he has lived in Chapel Hill, North Carolina since August 2010. Previously he was an investment banker in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, raising 600 million US dollars for infrastructure projects in the Middle East and North Africa. He now works regularly with the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and Rotary International on finding solutions to the world’s water problems and speaks about his work at public and private engagements. Ryan obtained his MBA from the Schulich School of Business in Toronto in 2006 and his MPH from UNC Chapel Hill in 2012. He plans to return to Kibera in July 2012 to continue his work with the community.