Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development

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

Joseph Onjala, Simon Wagura Ndiritu, Jesper Stage


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.

  • drinking water
  • subjective risk perception
  • water quality
  • water treatment
  • Received October 19, 2013.
  • Accepted March 2, 2014.