header image

WHO Draft Guidelines for Use of Rainwater for Human Consumption

Han Heijnen, Namrata Pathak, M. Feroze Ahmed


The World Health Organization has published the 3rd edition of the Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality in late 2004. In May 2007 WHO has reviewed an addendum to the Guidelines on rainwater for human consumption. A stand-alone document on collection and storage of rain water for human consumption is also under preparation. While several countries have national guidelines or standards for water quality of collected rain water used as drinking water source, the growing utilization of rainwater as a potential source of water for human consumption makes it imperative that WHO recognizes rainwater and includes appropriate guidance in the Guidelines for its use.


The paper reviews the health risks of rainwater based on an extensive literature review. The assessment considers microbiological and chemical quality, vector control, and technical and environmental situations that may influence the risks. Initial results of the application of water safety plans for rainwater collection and storage systems show promise in enabling households in low-income or water-scarce countries in maintaining domestic water quality.

Download Full Article.pdf