A low-cost intervention for cleaner drinking water in Karachi, Pakistan

Int J Infect Dis. 2001;5(3):144-50. doi: 10.1016/s1201-9712(01)90089-x.


Objective: To pilot test an inexpensive, home-based water decontamination and storage system in a low-income neighborhood of Karachi.

Methods: Fifty households received a 20-L plastic water storage vessel with a high-quality spout and a regular supply of diluted hypochlorite solution. Twenty-five control households were recruited. Water samples were collected at baseline and during unannounced follow-up visits 1, 3, 6, and 10 weeks later.

Results: Baseline drinking water samples among intervention households were contaminated with a mean 9397 colony-forming units (cfu)/100 mL of thermotolerant coliforms compared with a mean 10,990 cfu/100 mL from controls. After intervention the mean concentration of thermotolerant coliforms decreased by 99.8% among the intervention households compared with an 8% reduction among controls. Two years after vessel distribution, 34 (68%) of the families were still using the vessel. Thirteen of the households had stopped using their vessel because it had broken after more than 6 months of use, a pattern most consistent with ultraviolet radiation-induced degradation of the plastic.

Conclusions: In a highly contaminated environment, a specifically designed water storage container and in-home water chlorination was acceptable and markedly improved water quality. Where plastic water vessels will be exposed to substantial sunlight, ultraviolet light stabilizers should be incorporated into the plastic.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Developing Countries
  • Water Purification / economics*
  • Water Supply*