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Water Engineering and Development Centre

Fun with the 'f' diagram

F diagram keyThe movement of pathogens from the faeces of a sick person to where they are ingested by somebody else can take many pathways, some direct and some indirect. This diagram illustrates the main pathways. They are easily memorized as they all begin with the letter ‘f’: fluids (drinking water) food, flies, fields (crops and soil), floors, fingers and floods (and surface water generally).

This interactive diagram allows you to explore the effects of a number of water, sanitation and hygiene measures on the transmission of waterborne disease. Click on the stars below to find out how the different pathways are eliminated with the introduction of protective measures. Note: Some stars only work in combination with other stars, and appear to do nothing on their own!

Find out the smallest number of measures required to completely break the transmission of pathogens from faeces to faces.


Note: The diagram is a summary of pathways: other associated routes may be important. Drinking water may be contaminated by a dirty water container, for example, or food may be infected by dirty cooking utensils.