The Effect of Water Quality Testing on Household Behavior

July 6, 2012 · 0 comments

Am Jnl Trop Med Hyg, July 2012

The Effect of Water Quality Testing on Household Behavior: Evidence from an Experiment in Rural India

Amar Hamoudi, Marc Jeuland*, Sarah Lombardo, Sumeet Patil, Subhrendu K. Pattanayak and Shailesh Rai

Sanford School of Public Policy, Nicholas School of the Environment, and Duke Global Health Institute, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina; Network for Engineering and Economics Research and Management, Mumbai, India; Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, South Asia, New Delhi, India

Address correspondence to Marc Jeuland, Rubenstein Hall 188, Sanford School of Public Policy, Box 90239, Durham, NC 27708. E-mail:

How does specific information about contamination in a household’s drinking water affect water handling behavior? We randomly split a sample of households in rural Andhra Pradesh, India. The treatment group observed a contamination test of the drinking water in their own household storage vessel; while they were waiting for their results, they were also provided with a list of actions that they could take to remedy contamination if they tested positive.

The control group received no test or guidance. The drinking water of nearly 90% of tested households showed evidence of contamination by fecal bacteria. They reacted by purchasing more of their water from commercial sources but not by making more time-intensive adjustments. Providing salient evidence of risk increases demand for commercial clean water.

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