A project was designed by Umgeni Water (funded by the Water Research Commission of South Africa) to monitor the implementation of water reticulation in Vulindlela and evaluate the Water Supply Scheme from a community and environmental health perspective. The findings would hopefully contribute toward the development of criteria for Health Impact Assessment on Water Reticulation Projects. One objective of this study was to evaluate the usefulness of diarrhoeal disease as opposed to other health indicators for water-associated diseases. The innovative methodology followed in the study, a “stepped wedge design”, compared four discrete areas of water reticulation implementation in Vulindlela over a 15-month period. Five surveys, including a baseline and four follow-ups at each household, were carried out. Analysis (microbiological, chemical) was carried out of samples from the household drinking water and from the source of the water. Each survey included health questionnaires, the respondent being the head of the household in each case. Overall, there was no direct correlation proved between water quality and diarrhoea per se. However, there was a marked decrease in diarrhoea with the introduction of the new water supply. There was definite correlation between hygiene behaviours and diarrhoea. Diarrhoea would seem to be the health impact associated with water, of choice.

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