What works in expanding the use of chlorine dispensers to purify water? Impact evidence from Kenya

Aug. 28, 2015
Water and Sanitation
Sub-Saharan Africa (includes East and West Africa)


According to the World Health Organization, diarrhoeal disease is the second leading cause of death among children under the age of five. Contaminated water is often to blame. Chlorine dispensers installed next to communal water sources are cost-effective means of providing access to safe water treatment. But people have to use the dispensers to treat the water they’ve just drawn. There is limited evidence on what works in expanding the use of chlorine dispensers in cost-effective and sustainable ways.

To understand what works, 3ie funded a research team to design and undertake three studies for examining how a particular community-level water treatment device, the chlorine dispenser, is valued and allocated by local government officials, and how best the chlorine dispensers can be financed and managed.

Key messages:

  • Both users and their representatives in local government value chlorine dispensers.
  • Local officials were generally uninterested in taking responsibility for maintaining chlorine dispensers in their constituencies.
  • More chlorine was purchased by communities in which the dispenser would be removed if it was found empty.
  • Household chlorine adoption significantly increased in communities where workers received performance-based payments.


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