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Open AccessArticle

The Meanings of Water: Socio-Cultural Perceptions of Solar Disinfected (SODIS) Drinking Water in Bolivia and Implications for its Uptake

Department of Epidemiology & Public Health, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Socinstrasse 57, CH-4002 Basel, Switzerland
University of Basel, Petersplatz 1, CH-4003 Basel, Switzerland
Partners for Applied Social Sciences (Pass-International), Baal 58, 3980 Tessenderlo, Belgium
Department of Anthropology, Philosophy and Social Work, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Avinguda Catalunya 35, 43005 Tarragona, Spain
School of Public Health and Administration, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Av. Honorio Delgado 430, Urb. Ingeniería, S.M.P., 15102 Lima, Peru
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2020, 12(2), 442;
Received: 5 November 2019 / Revised: 30 January 2020 / Accepted: 4 February 2020 / Published: 6 February 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges in Supplying Safe Drinking Water in Rural Communities)
Solar disinfection (SODIS) of drinking water is a cost-effective household water treatment (HWT) method. Despite its simplicity of use, evidence suggest that SODIS water uptake remains lower than implementers planned. In this paper, we investigate socio-cultural factors associated with SODIS water uptake in rural Andean Bolivia. We conducted 28 semi-structured in-depth interviews and six focus group discussions within the framework of a community randomised trial to assess the uptake of SODIS water in the Bolivian Andes. Participants argued that SODIS does not produce an attractive type of drinking water despite acknowledging that SODIS represents a simple, safe, low-cost, and easy method of preparing safe drinking water. Attitudes towards SODIS water reflected local interpretations of water, health, and illness. The taste of SODIS water, the invisibility of water-borne pathogens, and habituation to untreated water represented the main barriers to SODIS water uptake. Alternative culturally adapted SODIS promotional campaigns (e.g., using herbs and additives to improve SODIS water taste) can increase its perceived desirability. View Full-Text
Keywords: cultural meanings; diarrhoea; SODIS; water and hygiene; BoliviaWET cultural meanings; diarrhoea; SODIS; water and hygiene; BoliviaWET
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Nuño Martínez, N.; Muela Ribera, J.; Hausmann-Muela, S.; Cevallos, M.; Hartinger, S.M.; Christen, A.; Mäusezahl, D. The Meanings of Water: Socio-Cultural Perceptions of Solar Disinfected (SODIS) Drinking Water in Bolivia and Implications for its Uptake. Water 2020, 12, 442.

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