Water Works

In the early 2000s, development groups threw energy into helping poor households worldwide clean their own water—using cheap, easy technologies from sunlight to ceramic filters and boreholes.

But what seemed promising in the lab didn’t pan out in practice. In Ghana, Gambia and Brazil, household water programs didn’t cut the incidence of diarrhea. In Bangladesh, free treatment products went unused.

What was missing? Often, attention to long-term maintenance and understanding human behavior. Now, researchers are seeking more sustainable systems—but they take longer to set up, adding to the daunting UN goal of universal safe water by 2030.

Knowable Magazine

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