Tropical Storm Jeanne struck Haiti in September 2004, causing widespread flooding which contaminated water sources, displaced thousands of families and killed approximately 2,800 people. Local leaders distributed PūR®, a flocculent-disinfectant product for household water treatment, to affected populations. We evaluated knowledge, attitudes, practices, and drinking water quality among a sample of PūR® recipients.
We interviewed representatives of 100 households in three rural communities who received PūR® and PūR®-related education. Water sources were tested for fecal contamination and turbidity; stored household water was tested for residual chlorine.
All households relied on untreated water sources (springs [66%], wells [15%], community taps [13%], and rivers [6%]). After distribution, PūR® was the most common in-home treatment method (58%) followed by chlorination (30%), plant-based flocculation (6%), boiling (5%), and filtration (1%). Seventy-eight percent of respondents correctly answered five questions about how to use PūR®; 81% reported PūR® easy to use; and 97% reported that PūR®-treated water appears, tastes, and smells better than untreated water. Although water sources tested appeared clear, fecal coliform bacteria were detected in all sources (range 1 – >200 cfu/100 ml). Chlorine was present in 10 (45%) of 22 stored drinking water samples in households using PūR®.
PūR® was well-accepted and properly used in remote communities where local leaders helped with distribution and education. This highly effective water purification method can help protect disaster-affected communities from waterborne disease.