Many developing countries are failing to apply standard water quality control methods developed over almost a century in Europe and N America. In the search for simpler and cheaper methods inaccurate and spurious results are being reported in at least 10 countries in the S E Asian and Pacific regions. In countries where WHO is now promoting the development of water quality surveillance and improvement programmes the application of standard methods indicate that typically 70-85% of small supplies are faecally contaminated.

Beyond the Water Decade the focus on increased coverage needs to be amplified to include improvement of the quality of service. To achieve the necessary improvements the limitations in conventional microbiological and chemical quality control must be recognised. This paper provides examples of an integrated surveillance strategy for progressive improvement. This approach involves a much greater emphasis on sanitary inspection whilst complementary critical parameter water testing is placed in a supporting role.

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