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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Measuring user compliance and cost effectiveness of safe drinking water programs: A cluster-randomized study of household ultraviolet disinfection in Rural Mexico

  • Author(s): Reygadas, F
  • Gruber, JS
  • Dreizler, L
  • Nelson, KL
  • Ray, I
  • et al.

Copyright © 2018 by The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. Low adoption and compliance levels for household water treatment and safe storage (HWTS) technologies have made it challenging for these systems to achieve measurable health benefits in the developing world. User compliance remains an inconsistently defined and poorly understood feature of HWTS programs. In this article, we develop a comprehensive approach to understanding HWTS compliance. First, our Safe Drinking Water Compliance Framework disaggregates and measures the components of compliance from initial adoption of the HWTS to exclusive consumption of treated water. We apply this framework to an ultraviolet (UV)–based safe water system in a cluster-randomized controlled trial in rural Mexico. Second, we evaluate a no-frills (or “Basic”) variant of the program as well as an improved (or “Enhanced”) variant, to test if subtle changes in the user interface of HWTS programs could improve compliance. Finally, we perform a full-cost analysis of both variants to assess their cost effectiveness (CE) in achieving compliance. We define “compliance” strictly as the habit of consuming safe water. We find that compliance was significantly higher in the groups where the UV program variants were rolled out than in the control groups. The Enhanced variant performed better immediately postintervention than the Basic, but compliance (and thus CE) degraded with time such that no effective difference remained between the two versions of the program.

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