To improve the public health outcomes of water, sanitation and hygiene programs in sub-Saharan Africa by developing evidence-based strategies for efficient, accurate and systematic microbial water quality testing.
Microbial water quality is a major public health indicator reflecting, among other things, the efficacy of sanitation projects and the level of sanitation that has or hasn’t been achieved in a particular setting. MfSW seeks to answer the question: Why doesn’t microbial water quality testing meet regulatory requirements in sub-Saharan Africa? Challenging technical, logistical, and financial requirements for both diagnosing microbial water quality and managing water quality data have long been cited as constraints to regular monitoring, but MfSW is a first of its kind project designed to evaluate the actual extent of these constraints.
Over the last three years, MfSW has been motivating urban water suppliers and public health surveillance agencies in African countries with incentive payments for completed water quality tests, particularly from neglected and poor areas. Participants were selected through responses to calls for proposals. Those who are able to meet their increased testing goals identify institutional contexts where financial resources can translate directly into greater testing activity. Participants who do not meet their increased testing goals will define situations where testing constraints extend beyond financial limitations.
In addition, MfSW is studying the impacts of water quality information on water services management. Determining how water quality data are used locally and how increased testing influences water management practices will help guide priorities for water quality monitoring programs.
The primary objective of MfSW, therefore, is to identify the causal factors that prevent microbial water testing from meeting regulatory requirements in certain Sub-saharan African countries that will guide both local water management and broader WaSH sector efforts at improving sanitation in these countries and beyond.
MfSW is led by Aquaya, in collaboration with the World Health Organization and International Water Association. In addition, Aquaya partners with the local water suppliers and public health agencies implementing the testing throughout the six sub-Saharan African countries in which MfSW is being carried out. Aquaya has formalized partnerships with 23 institutions that represent 118 water distribution networks and 343 rural health districts, which are providing services for approximately 42 million people.
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