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close this bookFood, Water and Family Health: A Manual for Community Educators (UNDP - WHO, 1994, 108 p.)
close this folderUnit 1: Healthy water and better sanitation
View the documentThe problems we have with water
View the documentWays to keep our water supply safe
View the documentGolden rules for safe water
View the documentImproving our environment ourselves
View the documentThe water committee
View the documentWays to make drinking water safer
View the documentLatrines

Golden rules for safe water

We looked at pictures in a book about safe water. We saw women in fine clothes pulling the handles of new tubewells. Water was gushing out.

“A nice dream but that wouldn’t work here,” someone said. “The tubewells here have been broken for years.”

“Isn’t there any way we could protect our water?” my neighbour asked. “Perhaps we need to make some rules for protecting our water.”

After some discussion we agreed on five golden rules for safe water.

Golden rules for safe water

1. No one should defecate or urinate near or in a source of drinking or bathing water.

2. Keep animals away from water collection areas.

3. Water for drinking must always be boiled or chlorinated, and covered against flies and dust. Germs causing diarrhoea will be killed or inactivated when water begins boiling rapidly, or when it is chlorinated. If the water is very cloudy it should be filtered before chlorination.

4. Keep drinking water in a clean container. Be sure hands do not touch the water inside. Cover the container to keep water free from insects and dust. Clean the container and change the water regularly.

5. Always wash hands with water and soap or ash before preparing food, eating or feeding little children, and after defecating or handling the waste of children or people who are sick.

Someone said, “We need an Extra Special Rule.” So we added another.

The Extra Special Rule is:

Show love and care for your family and neighbours by building latrines, by using them, and by keeping them clean.

“Rules 1 and 2 are more difficult to keep,” a friend said, “because they need everyone to cooperate.”

“How can we get everyone to join in to make our water safer?” we wondered.

“We can,” my neighbour replied, “Everyone has to drink!”


Have local artists and students design posters to explain Golden Rule messages.

Make up a play or story about one or more rules.

Write a popular song about clean water and sanitation in your community.