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Awareness of Water Pollution as a Problem and the Decision to Treat Drinking Water Among Rural African Households with Unclean Drinking Water: South Africa 2005

Publication Abstract

Download PDF versionAnderson, Barbara A., John H. Romani, Marie Wentzel, and Heston E. Phillips. 2010. "Awareness of Water Pollution as a Problem and the Decision to Treat Drinking Water Among Rural African Households with Unclean Drinking Water: South Africa 2005." PSC Research Report No. 10-701. April 2010.

Factors related to household perception of water pollution as a problem, treatment of drinking water and choice of chemical treatment are examined for rural African households in South Africa in 2005 that use an unclean drinking water source. Only 19% of these households ever treat their drinking water. The less clean the water and the more distant the water source, the more likely the household is to perceive water pollution as a problem; education of household members does not matter. Households with less clean water, more educated household members, and that perceive water pollution as a problem are more likely to treat their water. Boiling and chemicals are the most common treatment methods. These are not good choices. Households on average spend 8 hours a week fetching water and 6 hours a week fetching wood or dung. Boiling decreases water volume and requires fuel. Chemicals cost money that many households can ill afford. Households with less clean water, with more educated members, with higher overall expenditures and with a more distant water source are more likely to chemically treat their water than to use another treatment option. Provision of free or subsidized treatment chemicals would likely lead to a much higher percent of households treating their drinking water.

Country of focus: South Africa.

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