As part of its response to flooding in the Dominican Republic in 2003, Oxfam GB distributed ceramic “candle” water filters to householders in 7 affected communities. In a randomized, controlled trial conducted among 80 householders in one community during the six-month design life of the ceramic filter elements, faecal water contamination was consistently lower among intervention households than control households (geometric mean themotolerant coliform (TTC) of 2.9/100 ml vs 32.9/100 ml, p<0.0001). Overall, 70.6% of samples from the intervention households met WHO guidelines for zero TTC/100 ml compared to 31.8% for control households (p < 0.001). A cross-sectional study 16 months following filter distribution revealed that 88.7% of the filters were still in the recipient households; 48.7% were still operating properly, the others failing mainly due to breakage, clogging or expiration of the useful life of the candle elements. While source waters were still highly contaminated, 54% of samples from working filters were free of TTC. These results suggest that ceramic water filters can be an effective intervention for providing populations affected by disasters with safe drinking water during resettlement. They may also be a potentially sustainable long-term solution, provided householders have access to affordable replacement filter elements.

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