The importance of providing clean, safe drinking water and sanitation to rural inhabitants of developing countries is widely recognized; inadequate access to safe drinking water and sanitation has direct and immediate consequences for quality of life, food security, long-term socio-economic development and the eradication of poverty.

Much of the literature on the quality of Africa’s drinking water is based on very limited field and laboratory tests and there is little data derived from rigorous, empirical studies on water quality. In this well-researched policy brief and discussion paper, Christopher Opio, associate professor in the Ecosystem Science and Management Program at the University of Northern British Columbia and president of the Northern Uganda Development Foundation, offers practical policy recommendations for keeping the drinking water in rural areas of Sub-Saharan Africa clean and safe on a sustained basis. These recommendations are based on insights gained from field research in rural Uganda, where empirical testing was conducted on water samples from bore wells and storage containers in private households. Because bore wells and household storage are common in rural Sub-Saharan Africa, these recommendations are applicable across national jurisdictions, and address the role policy makers, NGOs and individual well users can play in keeping water clean and safe.

The Africa Initiative Discussion Paper Series presents policy-relevant, peer-reviewed, field-based research that addresses substantive issues in the areas of conflict resolution, energy, food security, health, migration and climate change. The aim of the series is to promote discussion and advance knowledge on issues relevant to policy makers and opinion leaders in Africa. Papers in this series are written by experienced African and Canadian researchers, and have gone through the grant review process, or, in select cases, are commissioned studies supported by the Africa Initiative research program.