Getting water to the home is one thing, making sure that it is safe to drink and to use for cooking, washing and domestic purposes is quite another.  The advantage of groundwater sources is that the water often needs little or no treatment to be safe - however, it can get contaminated. The two main intervention treatment options are:

  • Household Water Treatment
  • Centralised Water Treatment for piped systems.

Water treatment should not been looked at on its own - because it adds costs, complexity and another thing to go wrong, it is often best avoided. Therefore, the starting point should be Water Safety Planning:

Household water treatment is closely associated with the RWSN theme 'Accelerating Self Supply', however, it has its own network because this topic is so complex:

HWTS includes:

Other good resources include:

What is MUS?

Rural and peri-urban people need water for drinking, cooking, washing, sanitation, watering animals, growing food and generating income. Multiple-use water services (MUS) take people’s water needs as the starting point. By looking at all water needs and available water resources holistically, it is possible to make more cost-effective and sustainable investments that generate a broader range of health and livelihood benefits than is possible with single-use systems.

Spring-fed Gravity Flow Scheme

Capturing spring water and transporting it, usually by gravity in pipes, to water users, is a very common form of rural water supply around the world - particularly in hilly and mountaineous regions and islands. The technology is relatively simple and by using the energy of gravity, there is generally no need for pumps or other forms of energy input. The biggest cost tends to be the initial construction of the tanks and pipes, however, over time these will degrade and need repair and eventual replacement.

The 'Myths of Rural Water Supply' was prepared and published by the Rural Water Supply Network (RWSN) Executive Steering Committee in 2010. It drew heavily on background papers prepared by Kerstin Danert and Peter Harvey and comments from Richard Carter, as well as the knowledge and experiences from all of the Executive Steering Committee members. The process involved a workshop in September 2008 which agreed the main issues that would be covered by the paper. Barbara Evans produced the first draft of the paper and helped facilitate and document the workshop process. This was followed by an extensive review process in order to reach consensus.


Improving skills and professionalism in the Rural Water Supply sector is critical to its success. Rural water supply schemes need to be robust, cost effective, accessible, well designed and well built. However, good water projects aren't on their own aren't enough, they need to be part of a broader rural water supply service that is reliable, affordable and accessible to all members of society.

RWSN brings together the know-how and expertise from different water supply technologies and service approaches from around the world. This section draws together some of the key resources that should be of help to those involved in training and education for rural water supply.

Links from here do not constitute an endorsement from RWSN - please let us know of any broken links

Training Courses/Organisations

University Departments/Courses

Online Training Modules / Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC)


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