IFGH 2010: New technology & techniques for point of use household water treatment & the success of Aquatabs water purification tablets

November 30, 2010

Millennium Development Goal number 7 is to reduce by half the number of people without access to safe water by the year 2015. Promoting treatment of water at household level has been shown to be one of the most effective and cost-effective means of preventing waterborne disease in development and emergency settings. Household Water Treatment & Safe Storage systems (HWTS) have been promoted for a number of years with generally slow uptake. “Aquatabs” water purification tablets are now achieving rapid scale–up through new technology for household water treatment and safe storage amongst low income / rural communities in developing countries globally.

In the past year some 1 billion Aquatabs have been used for routine treatment of water in the home and emergency situations. Since 2007 the number of routine daily users has almost quadrupled to an estimated 8.6 million and this is programmed to more than double again in 2009.

The unique features of the Aquatabs programs include, -Unit dose (easy to understand). -Acceptability ( taste, cultural, religion) -Consumer research lead communication techniques -Affordability ( 3-4 cents per 20 litre tablet)

-Rapid commercial scale-up

Aquatabs are being promoted to low income, rural & vulnerable communities using social marketing behavioural change methods. The technology combines new learnings in communication techniques to non-literate peoples with affordability and appropriate product formulation.

The new developments in communication techniques arise from multi-country focus group work in rural and urban-slum settings while the affordability knowledge is developed from appropriate product benchmarking in minor kiosk shops and other end user point of purchase locations.Various hybrid commercial models combining Public Programs, NGOs and normal retail channels see Aquatabs being sold continuously at affordable prices, approximately 3 – 4 US cents for a 20 litre tablet.These robust commercial channels assure the early scalability and long- term sustainability of supply to lowest income rural peoples and slum dwellers internationally. Additional advantages of the development of Aquatabs as a preventative health measure for HWTS are:

– the immediate local availability of Aquatabs in the aftermath period of disaster events. Thus the most vulnerable will have immediate access to product and knowledge of household water treatment techniques.

– potential beneficial results through reducing the need for water boiling and thus related burns and respiratory diseases arising in the home.

This rapid scale up being achieved and collateral benefits to vulnerable low-income groups point to a potential break through in household water treatment.






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