Department Sanitation, Water and Solid Waste for Development

Safe Water Promotion

748 Million people do not yet have access to an improved water source, about 1.8 Billion people use a source of water that is unsafe and large disparities in access to water exist between rural and urban areas and different regions. Sandec’s research on safe water promotion is analyzing the water challenges to develop and evaluate appropriate solutions to strengthening access to and enhance the consumption of safe drinking water in vulnerable households in low income countries.

Our research focus:

  • Laboratory and field-level performance evaluation of innovative methods for drinking water treatment and safe storage in low-income areas
  • Assessment of effective and sustainable safe water interventions, strategies and programs
  • Impact evaluations of improved access to safe drinking water

Research Projects

Evaluation of larger size gravity driven membrane systems for institutions (schools, community kiosks), Uganda

GDM filtration is a safe water product innovation that has been tested at household level in Bolivia and Kenya. Due to its ease of operation, the technology had high levels of acceptance in both countries. High production cost for household units however currently limit their affordability for low income households. Water treatment through larger community scale systems is a different approach of using this technology, that probably can be operated at much lower cost. As community scale GDM Filters had not been tested in low income countries, the objective of this project therefore is to A) evaluate the technical feasibility as well as operation and maintenance requirements of the technology in larger community scale systems and B) to operate a water kiosk providing safe water to the local community and assess if sufficient demand for safe water can be generated and if a viable business can be operated through the water kiosk.

Evaluating the outcome of different business models for Water Kiosks

Previous evaluations of water kiosks identified different elements of a business model influencing their sustainable operation such as management structure, pricing, type of ownership, demand for safe water within community. In this project we compare water kiosks models using varying technologies with different operation demands and kiosk management models to gain insight into the technical, logistical and socioeconomic feasibility and sustainability of business operation.

Assess strategies to reduce recontamination of treated water during transport and storage

Water that is supplied at community level in hygienically critical environments commonly is subject to recontamination during transport and storage. The availability of products and approaches to reduce these recontamination risks are of high importance to assure safe water at the point of consumption, a critical indicator for achieving SDG 6.1. To provide a contribution towards this goal we are experimenting with different approaches to enhance safe storage such as secondary disinfection using UVC LEDs in storage containers, evaluation of passive low-cost chlorination approaches in water kiosks, assessment of cleaning strategies for water containers and the development of improved water transport containers.

Assess safe water promotion & implementation strategies in Midwestern Areas in Nepal

Critical hygiene and water handling practices as well as technical challenges in water supply schemes lead to the deterioration of the water quality at the point of consumption. This project in the Midwestern areas of Nepal therefore was conceived to get a better understanding of where and why water contamination takes place, to quantify the degree of recontamination, understand the behavioral determinants of people living in the project area regarding safe water and hygiene practices and review the potential market conditions for the marketing of household water treatment and safe water storage products. Project intervention strategies are conceived on the basis of insight gained during assessment and their health impact is evaluated.

Assessing the impact of carrying water on women’s health

Improved access to safe drinking water and sanitation are important determinants of human health. For decades the benchmark for improving access to drinking water as stated in the Millennium Development Goals has been community level access. Much greater health and economic benefits can be generated if access to safe drinking water is provided at the household level instead of community level. First, household water access will increase the amount of water available for hygienic practices in the household therewith reducing the amount of pathogens in the household environment. Second, drinking water itself will be less prone to recontamination during transport and storage if it can be collected at the tap in the household, and third, the tremendous work and health burden women are facing to transport water from the water supply point in the community to their homes will be reduced. This aspect is accounted for in the Sustainable Development Goal 6.1. where the definition of safely managed drinking water is drinking water from an improved source that is located on premises, available when need and free from faecal and priority chemical contamination. This project aims at quantifying the third aspect of health burden i.e. understanding health constraints women in Nepal are facing by carrying water from the community source to their homes to quantity the benefit that can be generated by increasing piped household level access to safe drinking water. The study is being conducted in collaboration with public health researchers from Dhulikhel Hospital, Kathmandu University and social psychologists from the University of Bern.

Solar Water Disinfection

SODIS (short for Solar Water Disinfection) started as an initiative of Eawag. We supported the improvement and spread of the SODIS method through research in microbiology, health, educational strategies and PET bottles. More information on the SODIS Website.


Regula Meierhofer Group Leader Safe Water Promotion Tel. +41 58 765 5073 Send Mail
Lukas Bouman Tel. +41 58 765 6691 Send Mail

External Team Members

Dr. Akina Shrestha
Lecturer & researcher
Dhulikhel hospital
Kathmandu University, Nepal

Dr. Maryna Peter
Hochschule für Life Sciences FHNW
Tel +41 61 228 57 92