Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

Safe Drinking Water

Family members drink safe water

Access to safe drinking water among children under five could prevent most diarrheal episodes, and reduce mortality and levels of malnutrition.1Safer water, better health: costs, benefits and sustainability of interventions to protect and promote health.
Prüss-Üstün A, Bos R, Gore F, et al.
World Health Organization
This is a habitual set of behaviors that must be practiced on every occasion by adults, children and babies.

Key Points from Global Research for Safe Drinking Water

  • Keeping the cost of improved water sources low and access nearby can encourage households to regularly use these improved water sources to meet their family’s drinking water needs.
  • Promoting the benefits of safe drinking water, especially through health providers and community leaders, can improve safe water collection and storage behaviors in households.

Behavior Profile Sample: Safe Drinking Water

A Behavior Profile is a summary analysis of each behavior. This sample draws from global evidence and illustrates the result of using the Create Behavior Profiles Tool to analyze factors, supporting actors and strategies and to ensure logical pathways exist between strategies proposed and factors related to the practice of the behavior. This sample may be used as a starting point or reference for creating country-specific Behavior Profiles.

Create Behavior Profiles

Improve maternal and child survival
Family members drink safe water
Percentage of households whose main source of drinking water is an improved source

Behavior Analysis



What steps are needed to practice this behavior?
  1. Collect water from an improved source in a clean container
  2. Transport water in a clean, covered container
  3. When necessary, treat water by boiling, solar water disinfection (SODIS), chlorination or filtration
  4. Store water in a clean, covered container out of reach of children
  5. Retrieve water using a clean long-handled implement
  6. Provide water to children with clean cup

Click on any box
        to see the pathwaysA pathway illustrates how elements in the Behavior Profile are linked. When read from right to left, a pathway highlights how strategies are expected to address the factors to enable adoption of the Accelerator Behavior.  
        of the behavior.


What factors may prevent or support practice of this behavior? These should be analyzed for each country context.
Accessibility: It can be difficult to find water treatment products in local market or health centers
Accessibility: It is usually expensive or time consuming to collect from improved water sources or to treat water
Norms: Households believe that others in community have adopted safe water behaviors
Attitudes and Beliefs: Many family members do not like the taste of chemically-treated water
Attitudes and Beliefs: Often family members believe that drinking treated water is only required during illness
Attitudes and Beliefs: Many are willing to change water collection, treatment, and storage behaviors to improve their health
Knowledge: Most are not aware of the link between unsafe water and diarrheal episodes
Skills: Many are unable to correctly use treatment options or equipment


Who must support the practice of this behavior?
Policymakers: Prioritize water and sanitation development projects for rural communities
Community Leaders: Model healthy behaviors by adhering to safe water handling and treatment behaviors


How might we focus our efforts based on this analysis?
Enabling Environment
Financing: Support market-based approaches including micro-credit and loans
Policies and Governance: Support regulatory reforms that increase and improve the quality of water treatment and storage options available in the market
Systems, Products and Services
Infrastructure: Support national planning to improve water systems development
Quality Improvement: Train and equip health care personnel to conduct interpersonal communication with clients on the importance of correct water handling and treatment at all times to prevent disease
Demand and Use
Collective Engagement: Train and equip community leaders to promote the benefits of correct water handling and treatment within households
Skills Building: Develop point-of-use and education interventions at the household-level to train families on correct water handling, treatment options and equipment

Global Status of Accelerator Behavior

Percentage of households whose main source of drinking water is an improved source

The DHS Program Indicator Data API, The Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) Program

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