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Comparative Study
. 2016 Mar 2;13(3):275.
doi: 10.3390/ijerph13030275.

To What Extent Is Drinking Water Tested in Sub-Saharan Africa? A Comparative Analysis of Regulated Water Quality Monitoring

Free PMC article
Comparative Study

To What Extent Is Drinking Water Tested in Sub-Saharan Africa? A Comparative Analysis of Regulated Water Quality Monitoring

Rachel Peletz et al. Int J Environ Res Public Health. .
Free PMC article


Water quality information is important for guiding water safety management and preventing water-related diseases. To assess the current status of regulated water quality monitoring in sub-Saharan Africa, we evaluated testing programs for fecal contamination in 72 institutions (water suppliers and public health agencies) across 10 countries. Data were collected through written surveys, in-person interviews, and analysis of microbial water quality testing levels. Though most institutions did not achieve the testing levels specified by applicable standards or World Health Organization (WHO) Guidelines, 85% of institutions had conducted some microbial water testing in the previous year. Institutions were more likely to meet testing targets if they were suppliers (as compared to surveillance agencies), served larger populations, operated in urban settings, and had higher water quality budgets (all p < 0.05). Our results indicate that smaller water providers and rural public health offices will require greater attention and additional resources to achieve regulatory compliance for water quality monitoring in sub-Saharan Africa. The cost-effectiveness of water quality monitoring should be improved by the application of risk-based water management approaches. Efforts to strengthen monitoring capacity should pay greater attention to program sustainability and institutional commitment to water safety.

Keywords: drinking water; fecal contamination; health agencies; institutional performance; regulated testing; sub-Saharan Africa; water monitoring; water quality; water utilities.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Recruitment process for institutions (water suppliers and surveillance agencies) to participate in the Monitoring for Safe Water research initiative.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Monitoring performance over one year with respect to WHO Guidelines and national standards for suppliers and surveillance agencies. Performance in meeting WHO Guidelines is in black while performance in meeting national standards is in gray. a Data is missing for two surveillance agencies; b Twelve surveillance agencies do not have national standards (Zambia [23]), data missing for two additional institutions.

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