Method of Excreta Disposal
The majority of respondents (98%) said that adults used pit latrines, whereas the rest said adults defecated indiscriminately. Similarly, a majority of respondents (70%) said that children used pit latrines, whereas 30% said children used open field/defecated indiscriminately. Most of the pit latrines (95%) in the community were traditional, whereas the rest were ventilated improved pit latrines (VIP latrines). A walk through the community confirmed the report that some people excreted indiscriminately as human excreta was observed strewn all over the compounds.
Source of Domestic Water
Most people (89%) said they used shallow wells as the major source of domestic water, whereas 2% said they used water from deep wells and the rest said they used tap water from the municipal council (Table 1). The shallow wells often had no concrete slab and often the aperture was not covered at all or was poorly covered with a loose lid that was not lockable, whereas the deep wells had a piped system. Those who used deep wells were mainly the more affluent people in the community who often owned the plot in which the well was situated. Tap water was mainly from water kiosks where water was being sold to the slum residents. Respondents who did not use the tap water said that the water from water kiosks was expensive and unaffordable to be used for domestic purposes.Footnote 3 Problems of unreliability were mentioned as hindering use of tap water from the kiosks as some respondents said that sometimes the kiosk near their house could remain closed for a whole day or more. Some of the respondents reported that the nearest water kiosk was too far from their homes.
Distance between Pit Latrine and Well
The wells were very close to the pit latrines. In many circumstances (38%), the distance between the wells and the pit latrines was estimated to be less than 15 m (the commonly used guideline is that the distance should be at least 15 m). Most wells (about 59%) were estimated to be at a distance between 15 and 30 m from the pit latrines (Table 2). The distance between pit latrines and wells for the wells from which water samples were taken was similar to that of other wells (Table 3).
Boiling of Drinking Water
Despite the short distance estimated between the pit latrines and the wells and the poor sanitary practices like indiscriminate excreta disposal, only 42% of those who reported using wells said they boiled their drinking water, when asked if they did.
Residents’ Perception of Contamination
Respondents pointed out various possible sources of contamination of the water sources in the area. These included children dipping dirty objects into water source (34%) as the main source of contamination, drawing water from the source with dirty containers (27%), domestic animals defecating around water sources (19%), and people washing clothes (5%) at the water source, among others. Interestingly, no one mentioned closeness of the well to the pit latrines as a possible source of contamination.
Water Analysis Results
Forty water samples were analyzed: 31 from shallow wells, four from deep wells, and five from taps.
All the samples (31) taken from shallow wells were positive for total coliforms. The most probable number of total coliforms for most of the samples (71%) was 1,100+ per 100 ml. The minimum number of total coliforms was 63, whereas the maximum was 1,100+ coliforms per 100 ml water.
Only one of the samples had no thermotolerant coliforms at all, whereas most had 1,100+ thermotolerant coliforms per 100 ml.
Deep (Drilled) Wells
Of the four samples taken from the deep wells, three were positive for total coliforms, whereas one was negative. The highest number of total coliforms was 240. For thermotolerant coliforms, two samples were negative. The maximum number of thermotolerant coliforms was 23.
For the five samples taken from taps (municipal tap water), all of them were negative for total coliforms and consequently thermotolerant coliforms.