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Community, household decisions key to ensuring water quality during extreme weather

Climate resilient water supplies are those that provide access to drinking water that is sustained through seasons and through extreme events, and where good water quality is also sustained. While surface and groundwater quality are widely understood to vary with rainfall, the impact of weather and extremes in rainfall and temperature on drinking water quality was still unknown.

What we did

We investigated the impact of rainfall and temperature extremes on water quality at the sources (point of collection) and where water is used (point of use) in three countries - Bangladesh, Nepal and Tanzania.

How we did it

We conducted an observational field study to track 2353 households clustered around 685 water sources across seven different geographies over 14 months. Water quality data was modelled to account for clustering effects and repeated measures at households.

What we found & conclude

  1. Water quality at the sources was vulnerable to changes in weather, which affects quality.
  2. Additionally, water quality was being compromised at the point of use (communities and households) due to changes in management behaviours, such as safe storage, treatment and cleaning.
  3. This is the first study to demonstrate the impact of rainfall and temperature extremes on water quality at the sources, and the role that weather has on the water quality in households and communities.

What we recommend

Climate resilience for water supplies needs to consider the infrastructure as well as the management decisions that are taking place at a community and household level.

These research findings were published on:

The February 2022 edition of the journal of Science of the Total Environment.

Who brought us this new knowledge?

From Ifakara Health Institute:

Alfred Lazaro, Dickson Wilson Lwetoijera, and Fatuma Matwewe

From partner institutions:

Katrina J. Charles, Guy Howard, Elena Villalobos Prats, Joshua Gruber, Sadekul Alam, A.S.M. Alamgir, Manish Baidya, Meerjady Sabrina Flora, Farhana Haque, S.M. Quamrul Hassan, Saiful Islam, S.G.Mahmud,   Zahid Hayat Mahmud, Kamal Pasa, Mahmudur Rahman, and Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum.

Want to learn more about this study?

Contact: our authors by email:

alazaro@ihi.or.tz | dwilson@ihi.or.tz | fmatwewe@ihi.or.tz

or watch the video from: