What have we learned from the research of the Impact Centre Erasmus (ICE) on interventions in the area of water?

Deep tube wells: To determine the best provisions for water supply, it is important to consider the national context. In Bangladesh this means taking into account the high risk of arsenic contamination. In this case, deep tube wells are the most effective option. Moreover, they require the least maintenance and they have the lowest risk of bacteriological contamination. Finally, they are likely to be the most reliable option in both the dry and rainy season.

Piped water schemes: There is not much evidence of the effectiveness of piped water schemes. One in-depth study shows no effect of piped connections on reducing the occurrence of diarrhea. However, it does report other considerable positive effects on the well-being of households.

Water quality at point of use (PoU): To improve water quality at point of use, different techniques can be applied. These include improved water containers, Life Straws, BioSand filters, chlorination at point of use, ceramic filters and solar disinfection. Of all the filters, a ceramic filter seems to result in the highest value for money. Of all techniques, solar disinfection comes out as the most cost-effective.

What does this mean for Max Foundation?
Interventions that include hardware components ensuring safe water supply, such as deep tube wells, can be seen as the first step in providing comprehensive and improved WASH. Evidence suggests that these water quality interventions, combined with improved water handling and storage, have a positive impact on child health. They should therefore be considered an important element in implementing WASH sustainably. By choosing deep tube wells to supply water, Max Foundation is also likely to be addressing the issues of arsenic contamination in Bangladesh effectively. This is contributing to water safety.

There is no strong evidence of the effectiveness of piped water schemes in reducing the occurrence of diarrhea. However, delivering safe water closer to households offers other important benefits to families, such as economic development and poverty reduction. This in turn will prevent child mortality and contributes to a healthy start in life for as many children as possible.

Finally, Max Foundation recognizes the importance of preventing recontamination of water. Therefore, it has integrated Water Safety Plans (WSPs) into the WASH programme.  According to World Health Organization guidelines, WSPs are the most effective means of ensuring consistent safety of drinking water supply.