water backpack training

Water transport and storage using a water backpack
PG Kirira, SM Karenga, GN Michuki
Publication Date (Web): 25 May 2017
DOI: https://doi.org/10.21139/wej.2017.020

In developing countries, it is reported that as much as 80% of prevalent illnesses are linked to poor water and sanitation conditions. In Kenya, 43% of the people do not have access to clean water, and sometimes, to fetch water, some communities are required to walk for long distances. Incidentally, 64% of the households rely on women to fetch water when in the absence of a home water reservoir or source. In almost all cases, plastic jerry cans obtained from chemical industries are used to ferry the water. The design of such jerry cans makes it extremely difficult to clean the inside leading to the accumulation of grime, which a possible breeding ground for disease causing microorganisms. With an estimated weight of 18 Kgs when full, the jerry can has also been associated with musculoskeletal pains especially in women who have to walk long distances carrying it.

The water backpack (packH2O) has been designed as a suitable alternative to jerry cans. In the last four (4) years, over ten thousand water backpacks have been distributed by a local NGO to rural communities in four counties in Kenya. During distribution of the backpacks, the beneficiaries are trained on usage, water treatment methods, cleaning and solar sanitization of the pack. This study was conducted to assess the utilization of the backpack as an alternative water transport and storage device in the Embu, Machakos, Kilifi and Kiambu counties in Kenya. The study set out to determine the adoption of the backpack in water transport, storage, and treatment, and the frequency of cleaning the backpack liner. During the study, observations were also made to determine if the participants were able to use the backpack correctly. The study participants consisted of 403 people selected randomly from a population of those who had received a donation of a water backpack from Partners for Care, an NGO in Kenya. Observation and structured questionnaires were used to collect data. Data analysis was done using R statistical package, and descriptive statistics were used to present the data.
From the study, it was observed that there was consistent usage of the water backpack over the jerry can. In addition, an average 86% of all study participants in the four counties demonstrated proper usage of the water backpack. Over 97% of the participants reported to be cleaning the water backpack liner using wiping and solar sanitisation. On the other hand, over 91% of all the respondents reported that they treated their water by boiling (33%), water guard (44%), and a combination of water guard & PuR (57%). In Machakos and Kilifi counties, over 67% of the respondents reported a marked reduction of pain since they started using the water backpack. In conclusion, there was strong evidence that the water backpacks are used correctly in Kenya and are replacing jerry cans in some places owing to their superior benefits. 


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