Water Test Kit Evaluation


CITE's evaluation of water test kits is divided into two parts: firstly, the suitability, or technical performance of hydrogen sulfide water test kits in Ahmedabad, India in the summer of 2014 (in conjunction with our work on water filters). Secondly, we are working on a global evaluation of multi-parameter water test kits, done through interactions with key stakeholders, accompanied by a Decision Support System (DSS) that will help practitioners choose the best kits to fit their needs.

CITE began studying the suitability, or technical performance, of hydrogen sulfide water test kits in Ahmedabad, India in summer 2014 in conjunction with our work of water filters.

That work continued in spring 2015, when CITE researchers returned to India to understand how user skill and training in community water committees can influence the results of a hydrogen sulfide water test.

As part of this research, CITE also provided a second hydrogen sulfide test vial to study participants so that they could test the water quality in their own homes. This enabled CITE to provide water quality data to more than 250 participants, whom we plan to survey in the future to find out how water quality knowledge can shape behaviors around water filtering and testing. CITE also facilitated a water source mapping and scoping study in rural areas in coordination with local partner VIKSAT.

For the multi-parameter kits, CITE has interacted with grassroots level practitioners, manufacturers and distributors, and water quality experts to determine the key metrics for decision makers when choosing a kit for their projects. We used these metrics as the basis for our comparisons between kits, which include indicators in the areas of technical performance, ease of use, availability, affordability, demand generation, and environmental and health impact. The DSS has been in development in tandem, and enables practitioners to vary the weights of key indicators to enable them to make more informed decisions about which kit might be best for their requirements. The DSS uses data collected from interviews with water sector experts, practitioners and manufacturers.


Key Findings

  • For single-parameter water test kits, low-income survey participants who saw a demo of recommended use were 68% more likely to use it correctly than those who were just read the instructions.
  • For single-parameter water test kits, technical performance of the two products was nearly identical: 94% accurate.
  • For single-parameter water test kits, the cost of the test was acceptable to low-income survey participants, but these tests are not available in retail outlets.
  • For multi-parameter water test kits, reagent-type kits ranked higher than incubator-type kits due to the high cost differential.
  • For multi-parameter water test ktis, average potential buyers valued ease of use and affordability the most, and availability and demand generation the least.
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