Pastoralists in Northern Kenya develop ideas of their desired filter

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We develop, test and implement the research methodology to evaluate household water filters for use in an emergency context. Our goal is to understand usersand implementers experience and preferences regarding operation and maintenance of products, and evaluate technical performance in the field. Feedback we provide to the manufacturers will enable optimization and further development of the products. 420 filters of five types are evaluated in Occupied Palestinian Territories, Somalia and Kenya.

In our last blog from Kenya, we described how we evaluate five types of water filters in a small, pastoralist community called Ndikir in Marsabit county, an area in the North frequently affected by droughts. Community members received their first filter in February and tested it for four months, during which we collected data on the performance and ease of use of the filter through measurements, water quality tests, observances, and structured and open-ended interviews. Finally, in July we collected the filters from the households and randomly assigned them a new filter, making sure that each household received another filter type to have a comparison of two products.

As not all filters are equally liked, we had expected that some households would be eager to get a new filter whereas others would prefer keeping “their” filter. We had therefore earlier started to prepare the community for this event through regular meetings and transparent communication. When the day arrived, we could sense the excitement of the community members. Each family drew a lot to find out which filter type they would get this time. Before the filters were placed in the households, they were cleaned. Once distributed to the households, we carried out integrity tests to ensure that all filters are treating the water properly.

In total, 155 households are participating in the second testing round that lasts again for four months. Our team visits each family three times for monitoring purposes during this period. Compared to the first round of monitoring, community members are visibly more familiar with the use and design of household water filters.

The fact that they will have evaluated two different filters in their daily setting will enable them to provide in-depth feedback during the extended qualitative semi-structured interview that we will conduct with each household at the end of the four months. In addition, we will discuss with selected community members the features of the five different filter types, their advantages and critical attributes, and develop ideas on the desired ideal filter in focus group discussions and a co-design workshop.

In order to ensure safe drinking water for the community of Ndikir beyond the duration of the study, the filters of the second testing round will remain with the families for good.