Do Decentralized Community Treatment Plants Provide Clean Water? Evidence from Rural Andhra Pradesh, India

Marc Jeuland, Marcella McClatchey, Sumeet R. Patil, Subhrendu K. Pattanayak, Christine M. Poulos and Jui-Chen Yang


Though there is little evidence on its effectiveness, a decentralized community water system (CWS), such as a market-based kiosk, is thought to be appropriate where piped services are infeasible or unreliable. We assess changes in household behaviors, water quality, and health following the installation of a CWS in rural India, using quasi-experimental methods. Three negative findings stand out: (1) few households use the CWS, (2) water quality is lower among CWS users, and (3) childhood diarrhea is higher among CWS users. This appears to stem from reduced self-protection by users amid continuing reliance on multiple water sources. Decentralized supply solutions will not deliver environmental quality unless household protective behaviors are maintained.

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