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Providing Safe Water: Evidence from Randomized Evaluations

Author

Listed:
  • Amrita Ahuja
  • Michael Kremer
  • Alix Peterson Zwane

    () (Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
    Department of Economics, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
    NBER, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
    Brookings Institution, Washington, DC 20036)

Abstract

This paper uses a public economics framework to review evidence from randomized trials on domestic water access and quality in developing countries and to assess the case for subsidies. Water treatment can cost-effectively reduce reported diarrhea. However, many consumers have low willingness to pay for cleaner water; few households purchase household water treatment under retail models. Free point-of-collection water treatment systems designed to make water treatment convenient and salient can generate take-up of approximately 60% at a projected cost as low as $20 per year of life saved, comparable to vaccine costs. In contrast, the limited existing evidence suggests that many consumers value better access to water, but it does not yet demonstrate that better access improves health. The randomized impact evaluations reviewed have also generated methodological insights on a range of topics, including (a) the role of survey effects in health data collection, (b) methods to test for sunk-cost effects, (c) divergence in revealed preference and stated preference valuation measures, and (d) parameter estimation for structural policy simulations.

Suggested Citation

  • Amrita Ahuja & Michael Kremer & Alix Peterson Zwane, 2010. "Providing Safe Water: Evidence from Randomized Evaluations," Annual Review of Resource Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 2(1), pages 237-256, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:anr:reseco:v:2:y:2010:p:237-256
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    File URL: http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.resource.012809.103919
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Burt, Zachary & Njee, Robert M. & Mbatia, Yolanda & Msimbe, Veritas & Brown, Joe & Clasen, Thomas F. & Malebo, Hamisi M. & Ray, Isha, 2017. "User preferences and willingness to pay for safe drinking water: Experimental evidence from rural Tanzania," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 173(C), pages 63-71.
    2. Saugato Datta & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2014. "Behavioral Design: A New Approach to Development Policy," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 60(1), pages 7-35, March.
    3. repec:eee:jeeman:v:86:y:2017:i:c:p:141-159 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Norbert Schady, 2015. "Does Access to Better Water and Sanitation Infrastructure Improve Child Outcomes? Evidence from Latin America and the Caribbean," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 92337, Inter-American Development Bank.
    5. Julia A. Barde & Juliana Walkiewicz, 2014. "Access to Piped Water and Human Capital Formation - Evidence from Brazilian Primary Schools," Discussion Paper Series 28, Department of International Economic Policy, University of Freiburg, revised Jul 2014.
    6. Dionissi Aliprantis, 2011. "Community-Based Well Maintenance in Rural Haiti," OVE Working Papers 0611, Inter-American Development Bank, Office of Evaluation and Oversight (OVE).
    7. Aliprantis, Dionissi, 2014. "What Is the Equity-Efficiency Tradeoff when Maintaining Wells in Rural Haiti?," Working Paper 1424, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, revised 27 Oct 2014.
    8. repec:eee:jeeman:v:86:y:2017:i:c:p:160-192 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Jessoe, Katrina, 2013. "Improved source, improved quality? Demand for drinking water quality in rural India," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 66(3), pages 460-475.
    10. Raymond P. Guiteras & David I. Levine & Stephen P. Luby & Thomas H. Polley & Kaniz Khatun-e-Jannat & Leanne Unicomb, 2016. "Disgust, Shame, and Soapy Water: Tests of Novel Interventions to Promote Safe Water and Hygiene," Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(2), pages 321-359.
    11. Norbert Schady, 2015. "Does Access to Better Water and Sanitation Infrastructure Improve Child Outcomes? Evidence from Latin America and the Caribbean," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 7369, Inter-American Development Bank.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    water quality; water quantity; survey effects; revealed preference; cost recovery; field experiments; local public goods;

    JEL classification:

    • Q25 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Water
    • Q51 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Valuation of Environmental Effects
    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling

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