Establishing Solar Water Disinfection as a Water Treatment Method at Household Level


  • Regula Meierhofer


UV-A radiation, SODIS, drinking water, health, awareness, education


1.1 billion People worldwide do not have access to safe drinking water and therefore are exposed to a high risk for diarrhoeal diseases. As a consequence, about 6,000 children die each day of dehydration due to diarrhoea. Adequate water treatment methods and safe storage of drinking water, combined with hygiene promotion, are required to prevent the population without access to safe drinking water from illness and death. Solar water disinfection (SODIS) is a new water treatment to be applied at household level with a great potential to reduce diarrhoea incidence of users. The method is very simple and the only resources required for its application are transparent PET plastic bottles (or glass bottles) and sufficient sunlight: microbiologically contaminated water is filled into the bottles and exposed to the full sunlight for 6 hours. During solar exposure, the diarrhoea causing pathogens are killed by the UV-A radiation of the sunlight. At present, SODIS is used by about 2 Million users in more than 20 countries of the South. Diarrhoea incidence of users significantly has been reduced by 30 to 70 %. A careful and long-term community education process that involves creating awareness on the importance of treating drinking water and initiates behaviour change is required to establish the sustainable practice of SODIS at community level. In Madagascar, more than 160 children younger than 5 years die each day from malaria, diarrhoea and acute respiratory illnesses. The application of household water treatment methods such as SODIS significantly could contribute to improve their health.