A transdisciplinary methodology for introducing solar water disinfection to rural communities in Malawi - formative research findings

Morse, Tracy and Luwe, Kondwani and Lungu, Kingsley and Chiwaula, Levison and Mulwafu, Wapulumuka and Buck, Lyndon and Harlow, Richard and Fagan, G Honor and McGuigan, Kevin (2020) A transdisciplinary methodology for introducing solar water disinfection to rural communities in Malawi - formative research findings. Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management, 16 (6). pp. 871-884. ISSN 1551-3777 (https://doi.org/10.1002/ieam.4249)

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Despite the increasing volume of evidence demonstrating the efficacy of solar water disinfection (SODIS) as a household water treatment technology, there still appear to be significant barriers to uptake in developing countries. The potential of SODIS is often treated with scepticism in terms of effective treatment, volume, and safety, and is dismissed in preference for more accepted technologies such as ceramic filters and dose chlorination. As part of WATERSPOUTT (EU H2020 688928), our study used a transdisciplinary methodology to co-create an innovative SODIS system in rural Malawi. The formative work focussed on the design of (1) an appropriate and acceptable system, and (2) a context specific intervention delivery programme using a behaviour centred design. Initial research identified specific water needs and challenges, which were discussed along with a co-creation process with potential end-users, through a series of shared dialogue workshops. Specifications from end-users outlined a desire for higher volume systems (20 litres), which were ‘familiar’ and could be manufactured locally. Development of the ‘SODIS bucket’ was then undertaken by design experts and local manufacturers, with input from end users, and subject to controlled testing to ensure efficacy and safety. Concurrent data was collated using questionnaires (n=777 households), water point mapping (n=121), water quality testing (n=46) and behaviour change modelling (n=100 households). These identified specific contextual issues (hydrogeology, water access, gender roles, social capital, and socio-economic status), and behavioural determinants (normative, ability and self-regulation factors) which informed the development and delivery mechanism for the implementation toolkit.


Morse, Tracy ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4185-9471, Luwe, Kondwani, Lungu, Kingsley, Chiwaula, Levison, Mulwafu, Wapulumuka, Buck, Lyndon, Harlow, Richard, Fagan, G Honor and McGuigan, Kevin;