The Healthy Networks Water Treatment (HNWT) study aims to implement a social network-based intervention to promote safe drinking water on Mfangano and evaluate intervention impact.


The HNWT study took root during the first summer that study investigator Matt Hickey spent on Mfangano in 2010.  Research surveys and informal conversations made clear that safe drinking water was a real challenge on an island with an abundant source of contaminated surface water and a complete lack of improved water systems.  The HNWT program and study was ultimately born out of a combination of these informal conversations on Mfangano and consultation with world experts in the field of household water treatment.

Study Description

HNWT builds on the existing Mfangano Health Net (MHN) Microclinic program by training Microclinics, or informal social network groups, on topics related to safe drinking water and social support around promoting group behavior change.  The ideas is simply that social networks, through strong peer-to-peer influence and constant informal interactions, constitute a powerful mechanism for promoting difficult to maintain health behaviors over a prolonged period of time.  In January and February 2013, over 500 Microclinic participants went through these training sessions and received ceramic filters for drinking water treatment in the home.  HNWT is simultaneously conducting a 12-month research study evaluating the effectiveness of the Microclinic model for promoting sustained water treatment behavior.  Study activities will be concluded in March 2014

 Study Activities

  • Baseline survey and water quality testing to determine pre-program status of household drinking water quality and treatment
  • Extensive mobilization efforts to ensure that household members responsible for treating water in the home joined Microclinic groups for training on water treatment and ceramic filter use
  • Three Microclinic education and social support sessions providing training on:

1) Waterborne illnesses and drinking water quality,

2) Water treatment methods and introduction to ceramic filters, and

3) Microclinic support for promoting group water treatment behaviors.

  • Longitudinal follow up to assess filter use and water quality at one-, six- and twelve-months post intervention


  • Complete Microclinic training on household water treatment
  • Making ceramic filters commercially available on Mfangano, thus ensuring the availability of replacement parts and program sustainability
  • Complete 6-month study follow up and disseminate program results through a peer-reviewed publication


  • Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI)
  • University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)
  • Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF)
  • Safe Water and AIDS Project (SWAP)
  • Microclinic International (MCI)
  • Family AIDS Care and Education Services (FACES)

Fundraising Target

  • Through generous support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and numerous private donations, program and research expenses to date have been fully funded.
  • In 2013, we hope to raise an additional $5,000 to cover expenses to complete our longitudinal research surveys and conduct a series of qualitative interviews and focus groups.


Matt Hickey, Co-Director of Research: matt [dot] hickey [at] ucsf [dot] edu