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Household Solar Disinfection

Solar disinfection uses the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays to kill microorganisms in water. When a sealed, clear container of water is exposed to sunlight, the UV radiation destroys bacterial, viral, and parasitic pathogens.

Implementation: The user fills a plastic soda bottle with low-turbidity water and shakes the bottle to oxygenate the water. The bottle is then placed on a roof or rack for six hours if sunny or two days if cloudy. The disinfected water is then consumed directly from the bottle.

What this treats: This system inactivates bacteria, viruses, and protozoa.

Benefits:
Reduces bacteria, viruses, and protozoa
Easy to use with locally available materials
Risk of re-contamination is low because water is consumed directly from bottles

Drawbacks:
Requires relatively clear, colorless water for effective treatment
Does not treat chemical contaminants in water
Not useful in treating large volumes of water

Spotlight on use: Indonesia

In the East Lombok District, Indonesia, only 50 percent of the population has access to water and only 38 percent to sanitation. As a result, testing in rural areas revealed a high E. coli contamination rate within the water supply found in hand dug wells. This contamination caused a high incident rate of diarrheal disease among the population.

During a 14-month period, household solar disinfection was introduced in East Lombok through community health centers and trained volunteers working within local villages. This extensive outreach program trained 130,000 people in 144 villages. As a result, household solar disinfection reduced bacterial contamination of drinking water by 97 percent. Diarrhoea incidence of users was reduced by more than 70 percent.

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