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Improved chlorination and rapid water quality assessment in response to an outbreak of acute watery diarrhea in Somali Region, Ethiopia

Somali Region of Ethiopia has been affected by drought for several years. Drought conditions have led to food and water scarcity and a humanitarian crisis in the region. In January 2017, an outbreak of acute watery diarrhea (AWD) was declared in the region. AWD prevention and control activities include strengthening water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services. Access to safe drinking water is critical in preventing transmission of AWD and chlorine is an effective chemical to disinfect water supplies. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention collaborated with the WASH Cluster and the United Nations Children’s Fund, Ethiopia, to provide technical assistance to the Somali Regional Water Bureau to improve chlorination of drinking water supplies and quickly assess water quality improvements in Jijiga town, Fafan Zone. Timely sharing of surveillance and case investigation data allowed for the identification of gaps within the water supply system in Jijiga and implementation of centralized and decentralized chlorination interventions and monitoring systems. Pilot use of a rapid assessment to determine residual chlorine levels at various points in the city helped improve chlorination intervention impact. This work illustrates that rapid community-level water quality improvements can be implemented and assessed quickly to improve interventions during outbreaks.

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