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Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2012 Jul;87(1):18-22. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.2012.12-0051.

The effect of water quality testing on household behavior: evidence from an experiment in rural India.

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Sanford School of Public Policy, Nicholas School of the Environment, and Duke Global Health Institute, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina 27708, USA.


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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