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Journal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development Vol 4 No 2 pp 268–280 © IWA Publishing 2014 doi:10.2166/washdev.2014.131

Risk perception, choice of drinking water and water treatment: evidence from Kenyan towns

Joseph Onjala, Simon Wagura Ndiritu and Jesper Stage

Institute for Development Studies, University of Nairobi, PO Box 30197, Nairobi, Kenya
Department of Economics, University of Gothenburg, PO Box 640, 405 30 Gothenburg, Sweden and Strathmore Business School, Ole Sangale Road, Madaraka, PO Box 59857, 00200 Nairobi, Kenya
Department of Business, Economics and Law, Mid Sweden University, 851 70 Sundsvall, Sweden and Department of Business Administration, Technology and Social Sciences, Luleå University of Technology, 971 87 Luleå, Sweden E-mail: Jesper.Stage@miun.se


This study used household survey data from four Kenyan towns to examine the effect of households' characteristics and risk perceptions on their decision to treat/filter water as well as on their choice of main drinking water source. Because the two decisions may be jointly made by the household, a seemingly unrelated bivariate probit model was estimated. It turned out that treating non-piped water and using piped water as a main drinking water source were substitutes. The evidence supports the finding that perceived risks significantly correlate with a household's decision to treat non-piped water before drinking it. The study also found that higher connection fees reduced the likelihood of households connecting to the piped network. Because the current connection fee acts as a cost hurdle which deters households from getting a connection, the study recommends a system where households pay the connection fee in instalments, through a prepaid water scheme or through a subsidy scheme.

Keywords: drinking water; subjective risk perception; water quality; water treatment

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