205110 Sustainability of a program that provides water filters for rural communities in the Dominican Republic

Monday, November 9, 2009

Gary D. Michels, Dr , Department of Chemistry, Creighton University, Omaha, NE
Since 2003 a program has been in place to introduce personal water filters into rural communities in the Dominican Republic. These low-cost, family-based systems, consisting of two five gallon buckets, a ceramic filter, and a spigot, provide a reliable source of purified water. A major obstacle to creating a successful program is the lack of education about the role bacteria and pure water play in the cause and prevention of gastrointestinal disease. Our model for user education combines household visitation with water sampling and analysis. With the aid of a community health care provider, a team visits the households to inspect the filters and take samples of source water and purified water. The samples are cultured to test for presence of fecal bacteria. The team returns to the homes to explain results by showing bacteria cultures to the owners. Proper procedures for use, maintenance and repair of the filters is also explained and demonstrated. While costly and time consuming, this has been an important step in the sustainability of the project. Approximately 90% of the filters sampled produce no or low risk water according to World Health Organization standards. About 200 filters in 12 communities can be tested and revisited in a one week period by using three teams. Sustainability is also maintained by a filter cost/payment model to enable a permanent employee to oversee the program and to purchase supplies for new filters. Education programs are in place for the community health care providers.

Learning Objectives:
Identify cultural factors that limit success of programs for water purification. Explain a model for sustainability of a water purification program. List advantages and disadvantages this model for sustainability.

Keywords: Sustainability, Water Quality

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been involved with this research project in the Dominican Republic for 6 years and have been responsible for the work described.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.