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Harvard University,

By Michael Kremer, Edward Miguel, Jessica Leino and Alix Peterson Zwane


Abstract: Water-related diseases, particularly diarrhea in young children, kill two million people annually. To address this problem, donors and governments often provide infrastructure such as communal standpipes, wells, and protected springs in rural areas, where piping water into homes is infeasible. We study the impact of source water quality improvements achieved via spring protection in rural Kenya using a randomized evaluation. Spring protection leads to large improvements in source water quality as measured by the fecal indicator bacteria E. coli. Water quality gains at the home are smaller on average, but this finding depends critically on households ’ water source choices. At households that only used the sample spring at baseline, 71 % of the spring water quality benefits are translated into home water gains, suggesting that recontamination in transport and storage may be less of a concern than is sometimes claimed. Consistent with this view, the home water quality gains from spring protection are no larger for households with better baseline sanitation or hygiene knowledge. Changes in household water source choices after spring protection are used to derive revealed preference estimates of the willingness to pay for improved water quality using a travel cost approach. The average willingness to pay for the moderate gains in home water quality due to spring protection is a

Year: 2013
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