Monthly monitoring of vital physicochemical parameters of surface and spring water used for drinking and domestic purposes in cholera prone communities of Uganda, 2015-2016

Published: 23 June 2020| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/57sw2w23tw.1
Godfrey Bwire,
David Sack,
Atek Kagirita,
Tonny Obala,
Amanda K. Debes,
Malathi Ram,
Henry Komakech,
Christine Marie George ,
Christopher Garimoi Orach


Cholera is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in Uganda[1] . Cholera outbreaks affect predominantly communities using the surface water and the springs[2, 3]. To prevent and control cholera outbreaks in these communities, promotion of use of safe water (both quantity and quality), improved sanitation and hygiene are prioritized interventions by the Uganda Ministry of Health. Few studies exist on the physicochemical characteristics of the drinking water and water in general in Uganda. Information from available studies is inadequate for use to increase safe water in cholera prone districts of Uganda. Water samples were collected monthly from 27 sites used by the communities for collection of drinking water. Water was tested to determine the vital physicochemical parameters namely the pH, temperature, dissolve oxygen, conductivity and turbidity. The sites for water testing were identified with the guidance of the local communities and after direct observation by the study team. Geo-coordinates of the sites were taken at the beginning of the study to ensure that subsequent water collection and measurements were done on water from specific points. The study found that all test sites (100%, 27/27) had higher than the World Health Organization recommended mean water turbidity of 5NTU and the water temperature of above 17°C. In addition, more than a quarter (27%) of lake sites and 2/5 of the ponds had pH and dissolved oxygen outside the WHO recommended range (recommended range for dissolved oxygen, less than 5 mg/L and for pH, 6.5 – 8.5). The surface and spring water in cholera prone communities in Great Lakes basins of Uganda were unsafe in terms of vital physicochemical water parameters and were favourable for the transmission of waterborne diseases, including cholera. Therefore, in order to prevent cholera and other waterborne diseases in the study area water for drinking and food preparation should be disinfected / treated. 1. Bwire G, Malimbo M, Maskery B, Kim YE, Mogasale V, Levin A. The Burden of Cholera in Uganda. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2013;7:e2545. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0002545. 2. Pande G, Kwesiga B, Bwire G, Kalyebi P, Riolexus AA, Matovu JKB, et al. Cholera outbreak caused by drinking contaminated water from a lakeshore water-collection site, Kasese District, south-western Uganda, June-July 2015. PLoS One. 2018;13:e0198431. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0198431. 3. Kwesiga B, Pande G, Ario AR, Tumwesigye NM, Matovu JKB, Zhu BP. A prolonged, community-wide cholera outbreak associated with drinking water contaminated by sewage in Kasese District, western Uganda. BMC Public Health. 2017;18.



Makere University School of Public Health, Republic of Uganda Ministry of Health, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health


Groundwater, Surface Water, Africa, Water Quality, Water Quality Assessment, Uganda, Drinking Water Quality, Water Quality Indicator, Domestic Consumption