Options for addressing poor quality drinking water in rural Vanuatu
Consumption of poor quality water can cause diarrhoea and waterborne disease. To determine how to support residents to consume safe water, the Vanuatu Department of Water Resources (DoWR) undertook an analysis. The analysis included reviewing 793 water quality test results, exploring treatment options with WASH sector stakeholders, surveying 689 community members in three provinces, demonstrating products to 510 people in 22 communities, and interviewing key informants. Analysis of water quality results compiled by DoWR between 2000 and mid-2019 found that Escherichia coli was detected in 60% of samples tested and total coliforms were detected in 84% of samples. Overall, 62% of individuals surveyed stated that water is in some way a daily problem. Discussion facilitators reported that most individuals had not seen or heard of water treatment options beyond boiling and most who boiled admitted they do so only occasionally. Of the water treatment options explored in this research, household water filtration systems seemed the most viable approach. However, individuals underestimated the market cost of filters and indicated a willingness to pay that is half the market price. Of the different filtration systems demonstrated, consumers stated a preference for easy-to-use units with large and transparent water storage containers.