Man pumping water while two women fill containers and a girl smiles at the camera.

Household water treatment and storage (HWTS) guidelines

Designing water products for the developing world

Millions of people in developing countries lack access to safe drinking water. To foster the development of products that could help tackle this problem at the household level, PATH has created guidelines for designing and developing household devices for treating unsafe water and safely storing it for use. The guidelines provide evidence-based criteria for effective, commercially viable products that meet or exceed user expectations for long-term use. They take into account the unique needs of users in the developing world.

Purpose and benefits

The guidelines will help to advance development and use of household water treatment and storage (HWTS) devices by providing benchmarks for product attributes and performance. PATH’s objectives in distributing the guidelines include:

  • Providing commercial firms and other stakeholders with credible product design information and recommendations.
  • Enabling more rapid development of products with aspirational value to low-income consumers, products of high quality, and products that offer the best performance for a given price.
  • Promoting correct and sustained use of HWTS products—especially among base-of-the-pyramid users—by identifying and prioritizing product attributes with the greatest impact on user behaviors.
  • Increasing innovation, quality, and consumer choice in HWTS products.
  • Catalyzing discussion of product design approaches and the value of developing performance and design standards at the national and international levels.

The ultimate goal is safer drinking water and improved health for people around the world.


The guidelines are based on:

  • PATH’s studies of product interactions among users in low-resource settings.
  • Our understanding of purchase and adoption practices.
  • Our own experiences designing and developing HWTS devices.
  • Lessons learned from our work to improve existing products available to consumers.

The guidelines also reflect the work of individuals and organizations in the safe-water sector, whose contributions we gratefully acknowledge.

Guidelines View the guidelines