Water quality information provision and household water and hygiene behaviors (Andhra Pradesh, India)

When people receive new information about health risks, they may change their behavior to protect themselves. However, the benefit of risk reduction is often less salient than the costs of behavior change, and therefore, information alone may be insufficient as a motivator. This research used a randomized design to study the effect of information provision on treatment households, in communities where many households could access treated water from community water systems. We found modest evidence of behavioral adjustments towards purchase of such treated water.

Main research collaborators:

  • Amar Hamoudi; Subhrendu Pattanayak (Duke)
  • Marcella McClatchey (Booz Allen Hamilton)
  • Sumeet Patil (NEERMAN)

Related Publications:

Jeuland, M.; M. McClatchey; S. Patil; S.K. Pattanayak; C. Poulos (2014). “Do decentralized community treatment plants provide better water? Evidence from Andhra Pradesh.” In preparation.

Hamoudi, A, M. Jeuland, S. Lombardo, S.R. Patil, S.K. Pattanayak, and S. Rai (2012). “Household responses to water quality testing in rural India: Evidence from a randomized experiment.” American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 87: 18-22; doi:10.4269/ajtmh.2012.12-0051.

Abstract: 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.