In Sub-Saharan Africa 769000 children (~ 2 Asian Tsunami) under 5 years of age, died annually from diarrhoeal diseases in 2000-2003. Solar Disinfection (SODIS) is a technique for making contaminated drinking water safe where transparent bottles are filled with contaminated water and placed in direct sunlight for 6 hours. SODIS reduces fecal contamination levels from 1 million bacteria per ml to zero in < 1.5 hours and is completely effective against the pathogens responsible for cholera, dysentery, typhoid, salmonella, gastroenteritis, cryptosporidiosis, giardiasis and polio. The only clinical trial to-date showed that children under 5 years using SODIS were 7-times less likely to contract cholera than children who had not.
The WHO approved SODIS in Jan 2005 after the Asian Tsunami however many relief organisations are reluctant to use the technique. They see a need for further Health Impact Assessments other regions before promoting the technique. The only stakeholders interested in solving this problem are those that face it on a daily basis. These are key-partners in SODISWATER. The aim of SODISWATER is to prove that SODIS of drinking water is an effective intervention against a range of waterborne diarrhoeal diseases at household level and as emergency relief in the aftermath of natural or man-made disasters.
Research outcomes will be disseminated to the end users (local communities and relief agency coordinators) through the WHO Household Water Treatment & Storage Network and local NGOs. Other intervention technologies require funds beyond the finances of the communities that need them most. SODIS is a sustainable zero-cost technology requiring only plastic bottles and sunlight. The Development Assistance Committee of the OECD has identified provision of safe water as one of the key policy areas for 'Pro-Poor Health'. The SODISWATER project will help the EU meet its commitments under the Millennium Development Goals and the EU Water Initiative.
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