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J Trop Med Hyg. 1988 Feb;91(1):1-7.

Bacteriological contamination of water in rural areas: an intervention study from Malawi.

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Department of Pediatrics, Linköping University, Sweden.


The bacteriological quality of drinking water sources and of stored household water was examined in a rural area of Malawi, before and after improvement of the method of water supply. Among the traditional water sources, water quality was better in springs than in wells and rivers. During the rainy season, there was a considerable deterioration of water quality, which was most pronounced in wells. The improved water supply system consisted of piped, untreated surface water from an uninhabited mountain area. This water contained a mean value of 54 faecal coliforms per 100 ml which can be regarded as acceptable in this setting. During collection of drinking water and during household storage, there was considerable contamination, which mirrored the unhygienic environment. Contamination was worse during the rainy season than during the dry season. Technical interventions aimed at improving water supply in rural areas of developing countries will probably not become effective unless combined with comprehensive health education programmes for the population concerned.

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