Dispensers for Safe Water
Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), Evidence Action
Uganda, Malawi, Kenya
Free distribution is recommended.
Other water treatment methods and technologies in the region of installation.
Goal 6: Clean water and sanitation
Communities using contaminated drinking water sources
The dispenser is installed near a water source. It is fitted with a valve that consistently delivers a precise 3 ml dose of chlorine. The tank is filled with sodium hypochlorite (chlorine) solution and installed at the water source in a protective casing. Community members go to their water source, place their bucket or jerrycan under the dispenser, turn the valve to dispense the correct amount of chlorine, and then fill the bucket with water. The chlorine disinfects the water within 30 minutes, then the chlorine residual prevents recontamination for 2-3 days.
Purchased by NGOs and donated to communities. In every community with a dispenser, there is an elected, local community promoter who is responsible for the dispenser and educates villages on how to use it.
Active chemical and concentration (%) of the product (not the concentration of the treated water)
Form of the chemical disinfection
Does the water flow through a treatment system or does it remain in a container?
Is the dose of the chemical administered automatically or manually?
Manufacturer-specified dosing quantity
Manufacturer-specified time until water is potable, measured in minutes
Remaining level of chemical concentration after manufacturer-specified contact time
Laboratory-evaluated log scale removal rate of bacteria
Laboratory-evaluated log scale removal rate of viruses
Laboratory-evaluated log scale removal rate of protozoa
Reduction levels of heavy metals and/or arsenic through this treatment system
How long can the treated water remain protected and safe to drink?
Manufacturer-specified maximum level of inlet turbidity (NTU)
Dispensers are a 3 or 5 liter plastic container filled with 1.25% chlorine solution and fitted with a valve that doses 3 mL of solution per 20 Liter water container. They are fixed on a post in the ground near a water collection point.
Chlorine refills are delivered to the local promoter at each dispenser every two to three months. There are hotlines for promoters to contact with any issues, and repair dispenser hardware as needed. Dedicated field officers regularly monitor service delivery operations and adoption rates, which are used to adjust operations as necessary, hold staff accountable for service delivery targets, and track impact.
There is a financing mechanism to recover a part of costs, which helps ensure that target communities have access to chlorine to make their water safe in the home for free.
The chlorine in the dispensers can last at least 3 months. Each full dispenser will treat water for ~150 people for ~1 month before needing refilled.
The chlorine should make the water safe from bacteriological contamination for 2-3 days.
Dispensers in emergency contexts are more likely to be effective if: installed at point-sources, a high-quality chlorine solution manufacturing and distribution chain is maintained, Dispenser hardware is maintained, Dispensers projects are within larger water programs integrated, Promoters are compensated, project staff is experienced, local partners are involved with implementation, ongoing monitoring is conducted, and if projects have sustainability plans.
Academic institutions, implementers
Some household water treatment technologies are less effective if chlorinated water is used, for example filter with silver added or biosand filters.
Safe storage container for water collection and storage.
Kremer, M., et al., Sustainability of Long-Term Take-Up at Point-of-Collection Chlorine Dispensers Provided Free of Charge in Rural Western Kenya, Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation, 2011, pp. 249-250.
Yates, T.M., et al., Effectiveness of Chlorine Dispensers in Emergencies: Case Study Results from Haiti, Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Senegal, Environmental Science and Technology, 2015, 49 (8), pp. 5115-5122.
Ahmed, A., et al., Operational Models for Chlorine Dispensers at Communal Water Sources: Lessons from Government Partnerships in Kenya, Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation, 2011, pp. 412-415.
Chlorine is widely recognized and used for treating drinking water.
Field evaluations have been carried out in both emergency and development contexts.
Video on Chlorine Dispensers in Uganda
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