USAID’s POUZN Project Leads to Increased Household Water Treatment

The Social Marketing Plus for Diarrheal Disease Control: Point-of-Use Water Disinfection and Zinc Treatment (POUZN) Project, a $12 million project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) since 2005 closed this November. The goal of the POUZN program was to expand the use of point-of-use (POU) water disinfection and zinc products for the prevention and treatment of diarrhea through private sector channels. PSI and Abt Associates implemented the project with the introduction and scale up provision of household water treatment and zinc combined with oral rehydration salts (ORS). PSI enacted POUZN projects in the following countries: Angola, Benin, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Haiti, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Nepal, and Rwanda.

Sidonie and her three children live in the Houndo village in the Zou region of Benin. When Sidonie’s oldest child was young, he frequently experienced severe diarrhea as a result of the lack of a safe water source. Sidonie was afraid that he might die from diarrhea like some of the children of her neighbors and friends. But thanks to PSI Benin and the POUZN project, the rate of water treatment has tripled as household water treatment, in the form of affordable Aquatabs, is now available in the local market. Further, Sidonie appreciates that OraselZinc, a diarrhea treatment kit, is also accessible at her local health center. Where use of zinc was almost non-existent, almost one-third of caregivers are now using zinc coupled with ORS to treat their children. With these provisions against diarrheal disease, Sidonie no longer has to worry about her youngest child dying from the illness. She is eager to show other mothers in her community how to correctly use the products and stresses the importance of protecting the young children in her community against the illness.

The POUZN project has successfully led to a significant increase in both trial use and current use of the water treatment products in the majority of the water disinfection programs. Exposure to mass media, social/community support, perceived availability of POU water treatment, perceived threat from unsafe water and individual self-confidence in one’s ability to appropriately treat water were all significant factors in increased use. The POUZN program was also able to significantly increase utilization of zinc in Benin and Nepal in less than two years of implementation. To learn more about the POUZN project and lesson learned, read our case studies: