Evaluating household water filters in emergency contexts

Organisation: University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW); Institute of Ecopreneurship, School of Life Sciences

Partners: Cesvi, Caritas Switzerland, Eawag/Sandec

Location: Occupied Palestinian Territories: Masafer Yatta villages, Hebron Governorate, West Bank; Northern Kenya: Marsabit County, Laisamis sub-county, drought affected pastoralist communities; Somalia: IDP settlement Tabelha, Danyle Distric, area of Mogadishu

Type of grant: WASH

Status: Ongoing

  • Matteo di Paolo from Cesvi, the picture shows woman signing the consent form agreeing to participate in the study, in one of the Masafer Yatta villages in Occupied Palestinian Territories

  • Matteo di Paolo from Cesvi, The picture shows collaborator of the Cesvi together with the villager in the one of the Masafer Yatta villages in Occupied Palestinian Territories. The picture is taken during the baseline data collection.

  • Peter Maryna, FHNW, the picture shows collaborator from Cesvi and Hebron University, taking sample from a household water filter during the training conducted at the University of Hebron, in Occupied Palestinian Territories.

  • Testing flow rate during filter distribution in Masafer Yatta (by Matteo Di Paolo)

  • Explaining the filter to one of the users in Masafer Yatta (by Matteo Di Paolo)

  • One of the filters placed in locally availble buckets during distribution (by Matteo Di Paolo)

  • Mother and son on their way home after fetching water (by Joy Obuya)

  • Taking flow rate measurements and water samples during a monitoring visit (by Fredrick Ochieng/Caritas Switzerland)

  • Carrying out water sample analysis at our laboratory in Laisamis town (by Fredrick Ochieng/Caritas Switzerland)

  • A woman drawing water from the water filter into a storage container

  • Project staff preparing to distribute the cleaned filters to households participating in the second testing round

  • View of plates with water samples after incubation and the lab book documenting data entries


We will develop, test and implement a research methodology to evaluate household water filters for use in an emergency context, understand user experience and preferences as well as provide feedback to the manufacturers enabling optimisation and further development of their products.

What is the humanitarian need?

The project aims to provide access to safe water in communities, which do not have it currently. Drinking water quality is improved at the point-of-use through consistent use of household water treatment.

What is the innovation solution?

The overall goal of our project is to develop methodology and assess effectiveness, acceptance, applicability and limitations of the household filters in humanitarian context. In our study, we evaluate five types of filters, pre-selected by the HIF technical working group and other experts. We implement our research methodology in three emergency settings, 120-150 filters per setting for the period of 8-10 month.

The main objectives of our study are:

  • to understand which filters are suitable for applications in emergency contexts;
  • to understand which features of the filters are valued by households and implementers;
  • to detect major difficulties and challenges users have regarding use, operation and maintenance of the filters;
  • to verify performance of the filters under different field settings and environments to provide feedback to manufacturers for further optimisation of the products.

What are the expected outcomes?

The outcomes of the project include:

  • A manual summarising background of the research methodology as well as user friendly step-by step approach to the field evaluation.
  • A report on the performance of the 5 types of filters in 3 different regional contexts. The report will focus on evaluation of filter features as well as potential for long-term application of the product in an emergency setting. Quantitative data obtained during laboratory and field evaluation will be summarised, analysed and discussed along with the qualitative data regarding user preferences and perception.
  • Final MCDA workshop with following expected outcomes:
    • most preferred filter and filter features based on the weighted scoring;
    • critical features and attributes for all and selected filters (weighted most and addressed least); and
    • comparison of the user preferences to the expert choice.
  • Written feedback to the manufacturers on which features of the filter are valued by the users, which are rejected and which might lead to failure as well as assessment of the performance in the laboratory and field conditions.

Elrha is a registered charity in England and Wales (1177110).

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