Articles | Volume 63, issue 2
30 Jun 2008
 | 30 Jun 2008

Environmental health in slum communities : analysis of household water quality in four slum communities in the City of Bhuj, India

F. Wieland

Abstract. The main focus of this study is on water quality in four slum communities in the City of Bhuj, India. In order to determine key variables affecting water quality in surveyed households, the interrelation between household water quality, environmental services, and demographic, social and financial factors was examined. The data used in this study draws on a household survey and the analysis of water samples collected within the targeted slum communities. As faecal contamination of drinking water is a major health risk in small-community supplies, water samples were tested for E.coli bacteria using the membrane-filter method. In a next step, the efficiency of three water treatment methods – filtration through cloth, chlorination and solar disinfection – was tested. Considering various factors, solar disinfection is identified to be the most appropriate method for households in most slum areas. The analysis shows that the water supply and sanitation situation of a household has an effect on that household’s drinking water quality. Personal endeavours to protect family members from disease can be greatly supported by the provision of safe drinking water, adequate sanitation facilities and wastewater removal systems to every household. Furthermore, it appears that most slum dwellers are not aware of the interdependent relation between environmental health and their personal health conditions. It is therefore argued that awareness raising measures in this area can also be an effective means of supporting personal endeavours to improve household financial situations.