Humanitarianresponse Logo

Kenya | Dadaab | Use of H2S Tests to Monitor Water Quality in Insecure Environment


Water quality monitoring was aimed at achieving the following objectives:
• Improve water handling practices through training on prevention of water recontamination at household.
• Follow up on households after training to verify water quality at the point of use
• Assessing impact of training through making comparative analysis of water quality at Mother to Mother Support Group (MtMSG) members household with those of other refugees households


H2S water quality tests were carried out across all five camps in Dadaab i.e. Dagahaley, IFO Main, IFO 2, Hagadera and Kambioos. Samples of drinking water were collected from households randomly selected by hygiene promoters. Each hygiene promoter was required to collect samples from the sections/blocks where they work. Before conducting the tests, promoters were provided with training and demonstration on the use of H2S vials and the pool testers. The initial tests were supervised by the hygiene promotion supervisors to ensure tests were carried out appropriately before hygiene promoters could do it on their own.
The tests were carried out every week by 28hygiene promoters during their working hours between to 5 pm. After collecting the samples required, they would then place them in a closed room for 24 to 48 hours for incubation after which they would record their results and hand them over to their supervisors.
Most of the tests were carried out during the short rains period when the risk of diarrhoea is highest. Initially, a total of 22 samples were collected every week per camp until a new strategy of carrying out the tests was adopted in October at the onset of the short rains. Each hygiene promoter was expected to carry out 9 tests in a day to reach a target of 252 tests in a week. Total target number of the tests was 3,000 for the project.

Key findings: 

Even though refugee members are fetching water from safe water sources, it was established that recontamination occurs at households.
Notable improvement was observed on water quality at households after carrying out monitoring through H2S tests and conducting follow up trainings.
The engagement of local refugees’ staff was essential in attaining objectives of the project on time taking into account numerous insecurity incidences that were experienced at the project site.
Results of MtMSGs households were observed to be slightly better than those from other households which did not receive hygiene promotion training.
Use of the H2S acted as a visual aid material which is essential in carrying out trainings to people with low literacy levels. Moreover, the incubation of samples is done in the field where beneficiaries are able to interpret both positive and negative results which makes it easy to follow and discuss with community members.
More rigorous follow up testing for e. coli at households with positive H2S samples would have provided a confirmation of problematic water contamination and a better picture of the degree of the problem. This information might have helped to further explain some of the data or strengthened evidence.

Sample size: 
Assessment Questionnaire: 
Available on Request
Assessment Data: 
Available on Request
Assessment Date(s): 
31 Dec 2013
Report completed
Unit(s) of Measurement: 
Collection Method(s): 
Population Type(s): 
Leading/Coordinating Organization(s): 
Action against Hunger
United Nations Children's Fund
Other location: 
Refugees and Returnees