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The supply of adequate amounts of safe water for drinking and hygiene during natural disasters or armed conflict can be compromised and is one of the priorities in public health interventions to prevent the spread of disease. When surface waters are the only viable source, emergency water treatment kits are usually deployed by relief agencies for the supply of water. One option is the Oxfam Field Up‐flow ‘Clarifier’ Kit, which was designed to treat raw waters with high turbidities to adequate levels [i.e. <5 nephelometric turbidity units (NTU)] and at a relatively high yield (i.e. 10 m3/h). Performance data on the Clarifier from its development and during pilot and field evaluations are presented, as well as its long‐term use records during the emergency response to the Indian Ocean tsunami. This modular treatment system has been shown to be robust in being able to produce drinking water of turbidity levels considered to be acceptable during emergencies over a prolonged period.

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