(IAP ’13) Kristine Cheng

Kristine worked with community partners, Pure Home Water (PHW), in Tamale, Ghana during IAP. She monitored and evaluated the performance of PHW’s AfriClay ceramic hemispheric filter from the distribution efforts of UNICEF-Ghana to 1000 households. Performance was based on correct use and water quality tests. Correct use of the ceramic hemispheric filter can provide safe drinking water treatment and storage technology to rural communities that experience frequent incidence of waterborne diseases.

Third Blog – February 4, 2013: Looking Back

Tomorrow is the first day of classes for the spring semester. I look back and reflect on the experiences I’ve gained in Ghana very fondly. I’m pleased with the number of surveys I was able to conduct as well as the associated water quality tests. And I am very glad that I was able to meet with the presiding Pure Home Water Managing Director, Mary Kay Jackson, before leaving the country. Mrs. Jackson lives in Accra, but unexpectedly had to travel to the U.S. for the majority of our stay in Ghana. My advisor (Susan Murcott), Mary Kay, and I were able to discuss what could be done to better the remaining distribution efforts in Yipelgu, and hopefully see the recommendations implemented almost immediately. A consolidated summary of the discussion topics I brought up is as follows:

During January 4th to 19th, I have conducted surveys to measure correct use of the AfriClay Filter within the community of Yipelgu. The majority of the respondents have adopted and integrated the filter into their daily routine. I would like to note some preliminary suggestions to the remaining distribution efforts in Yipelgu.

  • Continuation of multiple reiterations of filter assembly and care within a single training session structure is highly recommended.
  • Training sessions should emphasize the difference between cleaning for first use vs. filter maintenance as per the training manual. According to the manual, there are slight differences in the first cleaning and subsequent maintenance.  Another option is to consolidate or mitigate the key differences into one seamless cleaning procedure.
  • Training sessions should focus on regularly cleaning the tap spout and/or handle. Approximately half of the respondents’ tap spouts and/or tap handles were visually unhygienic.
  • It is important to stress distinct filling and drinking vessels in order to correctly use the filter. Some respondents use the same vessel to fill the ceramic pot and also as their drinking water cup. Others are using two separate vessels for each action, but are visually identical.
  • Training sessions should highlight filling the ceramic pot multiple times.  Many respondents have noted that they wait for the entire ceramic pot to empty even though it would take a long time to do so until they fill the pot again.
  • It is also important to mention that stored water should settle overnight during the training session. The most common response in the how long the respondent allows the stored water settle before filling the ceramic pot is from morning to afternoon. However, settling time would be reduced if the respondent needs to fetch water in the morning and fill filter upon their return to meet the needs of the day ahead.
  • Special attention must be paid to the prescribed stable base, on which the filter sits. The majority of households, which initially set up the filter on a cemented mound, have moved them to makeshift unstable bases.

I believe if these points are emphasized that correct use can be realized in a larger scale. I plan to suggest further recommendations to assist in future distribution efforts.  More in depth recommendations will be communicated to Pure Home Water as my data analysis continues and progresses.  I feel that my work in the village has brought more of an awareness and emphasis on filter maintenance within the community. And it is my sincere hope that correct and consistent use can flourish into continuous use within Yipelgu. Future efforts to monitor and evaluate if continuous use is realized should be undertaken.

This field research has given me a grander appreciation in the significance of the role water plays in our lives. I will never forget walking the long, arduous paths, where the villagers must trek every day in order to fetch what they can manage to carry back home.

























Second Blog – January 21, 2013: Village Life

This past Saturday I concluded my work in Yipelgu with my 87th survey. I very much enjoyed my time in the village and connecting with the welcoming, wonderful people. I ‘ve found about 80% of the respondents are using the filter and about 70% are using the filter correctly. Unfortunately, I was not able to reach my target sample sizes. However, I believe I took my time in spending time with each respondent and listening to their concerns and suggestions. Hopefully, I’ve helped the people I’ve surveyed in some small way. I would recommend any improvement on dispensing water from and maintaining the filter if I see the need. The women and children have frequently expressed their observation in the difference of how the water looks before and after filtration.

Children at the Earthen Dam (One of the Community's Drinking Water Sources)

Children at the Earthen Dam (One of the Community’s Drinking Water Sources)















Conducting a survey

Conducting a survey















At the earthen dam

At the earthen dam















I’m leaving Ghana this Thursday, and I’m sad to leave so soon. I wish I could spend more time with the community, as well as study the drinking water sources more closely. I know that my work in Yipelgu will influence my future work and career. The people will be in the forefront of my mind and drive my career path further.

First Blog – January 15, 2013: It feels like home

The past two weeks have been a whirlwind. I wish I could have posted a blog and introduced my project sooner, but I have been constantly on the move or in the water quality laboratory running tests.

The bus I took from Accra to Tamale (13 hour bus ride).

The bus I took from Accra to Tamale (13 hour bus ride).















I am currently working with Pure Home Water in Tamale, Ghana. Pure Home Water (PHW) is a non-governmental organization that produces and distributes ceramic hemispheric drinking-water filters, branded as the AfriClay filter. UNICEF-Ghana has partnered with Pure Home Water to distribute 1000 filters to the village of Yipelgu in the Northern Region. The village of Yipelgu is approximately 20 miles west of Tamale, the capital of the Northern Region. This is the first large-scale distribution of hemispheric filters produced at the PHW factory. Yipelgu has been selected for the distribution because their drinking water sources are classified as unimproved. The village has a reputation for extremely turbid water sources, namely unprotected dug wells and earthen dams. At the time of my arrival approximately 700 filters have already been distributed. Upon distribution of the filters, representatives of UNICEF-Ghana and PHW will provide training and installation.



PHW's AfriClay Filter

PHW’s AfriClay Filter


The filters were only distributed to the women of the village. The reasoning behind distributing the filters to only the women is due to their responsibility in caring for children under the age of 5, whom have a high incidence of diarrheal disease caused by waterborne diseases.  Due to the manner in which the filters are being distributed, a compound may have a combination of households with or without filters. It also may be the case that an entire compound has not received filters at all. A compound is a walled complex that encompasses the dwellings of wives and their children, in addition to separate lodgings for the male family members. Most of the villages in Northern Ghana practice polygamy, where a husband has multiple wives. The husband is considered the head of the compound.  Typically, each wife has her own round hut with a thatched roof, while male figures each reside in their own larger rectangular-shaped dwelling usually affixed with metal roofing.



Compound complex

Compound complex

PHW’s AfriClay ceramic hemispheric filter design has been produced since the beginning of 2012 at the organization’s factory in Taha, Ghana, which is about 5 miles east of Tamale Center. The main goal of my research is to monitor and evaluate the performance of the ceramic hemispheric filter based on water quality tests and surveys that address pertinent factors related to correct use, such as filter assembly, treatment practices, storage, and maintenance. This correct use survey will be the first tool to evaluate PHW’s filter design and implementation in a household setting. My work will contribute to one of the organization’s goals, which is to supply safe and affordable drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) in Northern Ghana.

The study can serve to ensure that the filter’s purpose is met and fulfilled by the end-user. Moreover, results from water quality tests can highlight discrepancies between the filter’s performance at the factory during routine quality control tests and household performance. The findings can further be applied in improving the production variables of the ceramic hemispheric filter. Results from the correct use surveys conducted can provide recommendations to the associated training methods and manual, as well as product packaging.  Survey answers can also contribute to future monitoring and evaluation efforts.

A secondary objective entails a baseline survey of water quality monitoring in households that have yet to receive the filter. The remaining 300 filters will eventually be disseminated by the end of February 2013. This presents a unique opportunity in evaluating and monitoring households with and without the filter simultaneously. The baseline survey will focus on household characteristics, water source and management, as well as water quality monitoring. Findings from the correct use and baseline surveys can illustrate the impact and effects of the ceramic hemispheric filter within the community. I am working with a PHW staff member, who will serve as my guide and translator, to visit a target of 85 households with filters and 30 households without filters.

It is important for PHW to monitor and evaluate the combination of correct, consistent, and continuous use, referred to as the “3 C’s,” of the household drinking water treatment and safe storage technology. Correct use denotes if the appropriate training and understanding was employed to properly use the safe water drinking technology to its optimal performance. Consistent use refers to whether the technology is used every day. Continuous use relates to whether the filter is used throughout an entire year.

The implementation of the 3 C’s is the latest thinking regarding a successful behavioral training method to sustain safe drinking water consumption. As the World Health Organization reports,” While a growing body of evidence demonstrates that the use of household water treatment and safe storage (HWTS) methods improves the microbial quality of household drinking-water and reduces the burden of diarrheal disease in users, there is also increasing evidence that inconsistent and/or incorrect use may be the major challenge in realizing the full potential from HWTS. In order to develop effective mechanisms to encourage and sustain correct use of HWTS, there is need to monitor and evaluate uptake.” My research will focus on the correct use aspect of the 3 C’s, based on water quality tests and the survey participant’s demonstration and understanding of correct household filter use. Monitoring correct use will enable rapid behavior change if incorrect use is observed.

Water quality tests will analayze turbidity, H2S Most Probable Number, and Total Coliform/E.coli. Water quality testing is an important measure of filter performance and use. A total of two samples, which include stored and filtered water, will be collected from each designated household that has received the ceramic hemispheric filter. As for a household that has not received a filter, a sample of their stored water will be collected. The source waters of the village will also be sampled and tested once the primary and secondary dry and wet season sources become apparent.

I have many goals and objectives that I have carefully planned. I know that due to the nature of my research, I should be expecting the unexpected. My initial hopes and concerns before conducting the surveys have been far surpassed. I came into this project wishing to make a small difference in possibly a handful of households, but I’ve come to realize there is always room for improvement in treatment and maintenance practices. I feared that the majority of the community would have not integrated the filter into their daily lives, therefore not being able to witness evidence of correct use at all. I am pleased to say that what I’ve seen so far has been a good retaining in the understanding of filter use and maintenance, which I hope to talk about more in my next entry.

At the Pure Home Water House

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