While many projects worldwide provide infrastructure for clean water supply, 2 billion people continue to suffer endemic disability from water-borne diseases, even when “access” to clean water is achieved. This is due to intermittent functionality of clean water sources and inadequate sanitation and hygiene. According to UNICEF (2009), diarrhoea kills more than malaria, measles and AIDS combined. Most diarrheal diseases can be prevented through daily access to clean water combined with adequate sanitation and hygiene.
There is increasing evidence that access to improved water sources (such as shared hand-pumps) does not guarantee promised health benefits. In practice, extended ‘down-times’ are common for almost all improved water sources. International studies show that even a few days of interrupted supply may be sufficient to destroy the health benefits of a clean water source (Hunter et al, 2009). In rural Uganda, 17 million people have access to an improved water supply (65% of the rural population), but less than 10 million have reliable access, according to practitioner field experience. This is supported by studies across developing countries, which report an average reliability rate of 61% (Davis, 2013).
Even when improved sources function reliably, clean water is not safe water unless it is hygienically handled (Bain, 2014). Whave’s water quality tests show that, even when the source is providing clean water (meeting WHO standards), contamination occurs along the safe water chain between collection and consumption, thereby undermining potential health benefits.