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Self-supply as an alternative approach to water access in rural scattered regions: evidence from a rural microcatchment in Colombia

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Charlotte Paterson, John Gowing


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Globally, access to improved water sources is lower in rural areas compared to urban areas. Furthermore, in rural areas many people use water from individual systems they have developed with their investments, often without external support. This phenomenon has been called Self-supply. Self-supply ranges from simple to complex systems and different water sources. Water quality varies, from achieving World Health Organization (WHO) standards (0 Colony Forming Units per 100 millilitres - CFU/100 ml) to systems that provide water posing high risks to human health. While most studies in Self-supply have been developed in Africa, little is known in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). This research explores Self-supply in a rural microcatchment in Colombia (LAC). This research collected and analysed data from household and drinking water surveys. Results showed that 40% of households used Self-supply systems taking water from springs and brooks. Thermotolerant Coliforms were below 50 CFU/100 ml, during both dry and rainy season, and between 5 to 7% of samples achieved the WHO standard. These results suggest that Self-supply has potential to offer safe drinking water, provided improvements on source protection and institutional support. Therefore, Self-supply could contribute to address “unfinished business”, including ensuring access for the hardest-to-reach people, as stated in the United Nations post-2015 development agenda.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Domínguez I, Torres-López W, Restrepo-Tarquino I, Paterson C, Gowing J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Ingenieria y Universidad

Year: 2016

Volume: 20

Issue: 1

Pages: 107-126

Online publication date: 01/01/2016

Acceptance date: 15/09/2015

ISSN (print): 0123-2126

ISSN (electronic): 2011-2769

Publisher: Pontificia Universidad Javeriana


DOI: 10.11144/Javeriana.iyu20-1.ssaa


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