A Baseline Assessment of Water Quality and Access in the Bisate Catchment Area, Rwanda Open Access

Kambhampati, Anita Kameswari (2014)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/dv13zt63q?locale=en


The Bisate Region of Rwanda presents unique challenges to conservation and public health, as it is home to both the endangered mountain gorilla and a human population of 20,000 individuals. Prior research indicates a potential for disease transmission between humans and gorillas. This study analyzed the water quality in Bisate in order to gain insight into the risks of enteric infection in both the gorillas and human populations in Bisate and the possibility of transmission between these populations. Water samples from eight untreated water points were analyzed over a period of seven weeks. Total coliforms were used as overall indication of water quality, while Escherichia coli was used as an indicator for recent fecal contamination, as it does not normally occur in the environment. Of three main water sources inside Volcanoes National Park, only one was found to be consistently free of E. coli. All water points connected to this uncontaminated source were also free of E. coli, while the other sources and connected water points revealed varying levels of E. coli contamination ranging from 1.0 to 362.4 MPN/100 ml. Seven treated water points were tested for free residual chlorine; none of the points met the World Health Organization chlorine standard for piped water distribution. Geospatial mapping of the water sources was conducted in conjunction with a sample of 365 surveyed households to examine the accessibility of the households to improved water sources. While 84.4% of surveyed households were within 1 kilometer of an improved water source, possible barriers to access included the steep topography of the area, poor quality of some water sources, wait times, and user fees. The results of this study indicate that there is a need for greater accessibility to clean and improved water sources, in addition to better promotion of household water treatment to ensure residents are drinking safe water. Increased availability of clean water in the community may discourage residents from using water sources inside Volcanoes National Park. Reduced human activity in the park may decrease the risk of pathogen introduction into water sources as well as the risk of human-animal pathogen transmission.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Background and Literature Review 5
Addressing the Global Burden of Diarrheal Disease 5
Determinants of Microbiological Water Quality 7
Evaluating Microbiological Water Quality 8
Water and Diarrheal Disease in Rwanda 9
Disease Transmission between Gorillas and Humans 11
The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International 15
The Bisate Catchment Area 16
Methodology 19
Household Survey 20
Mapping 22
Water Quality Testing 22
Results 26
Water Quality Testing 26
Bunyenyeri Spring and Connected Taps 27
Bushokoro Well and Connected Taps 29
Other sources 34
EWSA Taps 36
Self-reported Water Treatment Practices 37
Water Source Accessibility 38
Discussion 41
Water Quality 41
Water Source Accessibility 47
Strengths and Limitations 50
Public Health Implications and Recommendations 53
References 56
Appendices 60
Appendix A: Emory University Institutional Review Board Exemption 60
Appendix B: Approval from the National Ethics Committee of Rwanda 62
Appendix C: Household Survey conducted in the Bisate Catchment Area, Rwanda, June-July 2013 65

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