Solar Bag: A Water Disinfection Alternative for Rural and Remote Communities of the Peruvian Amazon Público

Boynton, Karin (Summer 2018)

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BACKGROUND: The remote communities of Perú represent portions of the population

that are traditionally underserved in the water sector. While the Government of Perú

recognizes its responsibility in the continued improvement of water services for rural

populations, it has requested assistance in evaluating feasible alternatives to traditional

water treatment modalities. In 2016, CARE Perú implemented an innovative solar

disinfection technology in Bellavista, a rural and remote village in the Peruvian Amazon.

The Solar Bag technology is composed of a water bladder with a titanium dioxide-coated

mesh insert. The Solar Bag uses solar energy to activate a photochemical process that

produces purified water appropriate for human consumption.

METHODS: This thesis was part of an existing CARE project, “Mi Bolsa Solar,” and

used in-depth interviews and observations of eight female, head-of-household

participants to identify gaps between knowledge and practice of the Solar Bag

disinfection process and level of social appropriation of the Solar Bag technology. The

CARE Peru Key Performance Indicators (KPI) served as the basis for the design of the

qualitative study tools.

RESULTS: Themes extracted from the interviews included satisfaction with the Solar

Bag product, health improvements, quality of the water from the Solar Bag, and the

supply of Solar Bags and accompanying materials. Analysis revealed that a health

promoter’s unwillingness to supply materials can be a barrier to the use of the Solar Bag.

Analysis also showed that in the disinfection process, applying the alum, performing the

sedimentation, emptying the bags, disinfecting the storage container and/or storing

improperly can affect the quality of the water produced by the Solar Bag, thereby

impacting participant satisfaction. Lastly, according to CARE’s monitoring and

evaluation plan, the project had two positive outcomes related to social appropriation:

high use of the Solar Bag on the day of visit and a high level of participant satisfaction.

However, a third variable showed that participants did not appropriate the technology

because it was not available in the rural market.

DISCUSSION: In conclusion, CARE Perú may need to consider providing more

workshops that target quality control. Furthermore, potential changes in the design of the

Solar Bag can help improve the user experience.

Table of Contents

Chapter One: Introduction                           1

   Background on the project                         1

   The Solar Bag technology                         2

   Purpose and Significance                         5

Chapter Two: Literature Review                7

   Background                                     7

   Alternatives for household-level water purification      11

   SODIS                                        16

   Contexts in which SODIS is used                   23

   The gap between literature, knowledge, and research   31

Chapter 3: Methodology                             32

   Study setting and population                       32

   The Solar Bag technology                         35

   Recruitment and sampling                         36

   Study design and procedures                      38

   Study instruments                               39

   Data management and analysis                    47

   Ethics                                         48

Chapter 4: Results and analysis                      49

   Description of participants                         49

   Knowledge of the solar bag purification process versus the practice

      of the practice of that process                   50

   Solar Appropriation                               54

   Incorporation into daily life                         62

   Intentions for future behavior                       67

   Areas for improvement in the project                 68

Chapter 5: Discussion                               70

   Social Appropriation                              74

   Limitations                                      76

Chapter 6: Recommendations                         78

   Recommendations                                78

Conclusion                                        79

Appendix A                                        81

Appendix B                                        84

References                                        85

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