Use of Remotely Reporting Electronic Sensors for Assessing Use of Water Filters and Cookstoves in Rwanda. Env Sci Technol, Nov 2013.
Evan Thomas, et al.
Remotely reporting electronic sensors offer the potential to reduce bias in monitoring use of environmental health interventions. In the context of a five-month randomized controlled trial of household water filters and improved cookstoves in rural Rwanda, we collected data from intervention households on product compliance using (i) monthly surveys and direct observations by community health workers and environmental health officers, and (ii) sensor-equipped filters and cookstoves deployed for about two weeks in each household.
The adoption rate interpreted by the sensors varied from the household reporting: 90.5% of households reported primarily using the intervention stove, while the sensors interpreted 73.2% use, and 96.5% of households reported using the intervention filter regularly, while the sensors interpreted no more than 90.2%. The sensor-collected data estimated use to be lower than conventionally collected data both for water filters (approximately 36% less water volume per day) and cookstoves (approximately 40% fewer uses per week).
An evaluation of intrahousehold consistency in use suggests that households are not using their filters or stoves on an exclusive basis, and may be both drinking untreated water at times and using other stoves (“stove-stacking”). These results provide additional evidence that surveys and direct observation may exaggerate compliance with household-based environmental interventions.