Preparing video…

Introduction to Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage

Learn about the most important water treatment methods at household level, successful implementation strategies and about assessing the impact of Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage (HWTS).


Course at a Glance


About the Course

It is well known that water treatment at the household level can lead to dramatic improvements in drinking water quality. But does Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage (HWTS) also have global relevance? What are the potential treatment solutions and how do they function? Is there a standard strategy for successful HWTS implementation, or can we identify key components which make programs more likely to succeed?

In this course, you will learn about the public health impacts of unsafe drinking water and about different methods for treating water at the household level. The course takes a closer look at the roles of different stakeholders, such as governments, businesses, and NGOs. Can HWTS reach the most vulnerable populations at scale? How can drinking water quality be cost effectively monitored? What are the health impacts of safe drinking water? The MOOC “Introduction to Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage” will answer these questions with a series of modules and case studies from Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The course will be in English with French and Spanish subtitles.

The course was first launched in April 2014. In this second round we’ve made the following updates:

  • Recent facts and figures regarding the role of safe drinking water in lessening the global burden of disease
  • New modules on the proposed water supply targets in the post-2015 period, including case studies featuring field-robust monitoring methods
  • The latest from the World Health Organization’s HWTS Network
  • A new lecture on business models for HWTS

“Introduction to Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage” is a course in the series “Sanitation, Water and Solid Waste for Development”. The next MOOC of the series has the topic “Municipal Solid Waste Management in Developing Countries”.

English: Introduction to HWTS [pdf]
Français: Introduction au traitement et stockage sûr de l'eau à domicile [pdf] Español: Introducción al tratamiento doméstico y almacenamiento seguro de agua [pdf]

Course Syllabus

WEEK 1: Introduction to Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage
The course begins with a review of the public health impacts of unsafe drinking water. We define physical, chemical, and microbial aspects of drinking water quality and present the major classes of pathogens. Information about pathways for fecal contamination of drinking water are followed by an introduction to the concept of HWTS and the principal technologies. We discuss the global relevance of HWTS with focus on the post-2015 development agenda.

WEEK 2&3: HWTS treatment options
During week 2 and 3 we focus on potential treatment methods. We refer first to the standards of safe drinking water and improved drinking water. Week 2 focuses on sedimentation and different kinds of filtration.  Week 3 focuses on heat, ultraviolet radiation, chemical disinfection. Specific modules are provided to cover safe storage and combined methods of water treatment.

WEEK 4: Implementation strategies for HWTS
During week 4 we analyze different approaches that have been successfully applied. We highlight key components which make programs more likely to succeed. We ask the questions, what is required that the most vulnerable populations use HWTS correctly and consistently over the long-term? In separate modules we consider the special case of HWTS in emergency response and provide information about the role of government bodies.

WEEK 5: Monitoring and Evaluating HWTS
During the last week, we present different approaches for monitoring and evaluating HWTS. Case studies and guest lecturers, we highlight several key challenges, including the need for consistent use and field-robust measurements. The course ends with a wrap-up module, which serves as preparation for the final exam.  

Recommended Background

This course is an introduction – there is no particular technical or scientific background required. We are mainly targeting students at the graduate or post-graduate level, but the only course requirement is an interest in drinking water quality.

Course Format

The class consists of lecture videos, quizzes and a final exam. The questions and explanations for the quizzes and the final exam are offered in English and French.


Will I get a Statement of Accomplishment after completing this class?
Yes. Students who successfully complete the class will receive a Statement of Accomplishment signed by the instructor.  It is a course of the series “WASH in developing countries”. Students who successfully complete all courses of the series will receive an additional Statement of Accomplishment.

What resources will I need for this class?
For this course, all you need is an internet connection, an interest in drinking water quality, and the time to read and discuss.

What is the format of the class?
Lectures, videos, exercises, online discussion

New to coursera? 
Please visit the
Student Support Center.