Knowledge, Information, and Water Treatment Behavior of Residents in the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal
Access to safe drinking water plays a crucial role in the overall social and economic development of a community. Unsafe water delivered to household taps increases the risks of waterborne diseases and threatens population health. Consumers can adopt a number of averting behaviors such as filtering or boiling their water. While these approaches are effective in reducing the likelihood of contracting a waterborne disease, not all households treat their water. Given this, it is important to develop a better understanding of factors that influence water treatment behavior. In this paper, we examine determinants of water treatment behavior using survey data (N=1200) from Kathmandu, Nepal. In particular, this paper focuses on the impacts of knowledge, exposure to information, and community participation on drinking water treatment behavior. Previous research has found that income, education level, awareness, and exposure to media are major factors that impact the individual-level decision to treat water before using it. We contribute to this literature by explicitly examining how knowledge about waterborne diseases, exposure to water quality information campaigns, and participation in community organizations impact drinking water treatment behavior. The results from probit regression analyses suggest that either a one percentage increase in the knowledge index or community participation index both increase the likelihood of utilizing drinking water treatment methods by about 0.17 percentage points. Households connected to the distribution system are 31 percentage points more likely to treat water compared to those that are not connected to the system. Multinomial results indicate that wealthier households use more than one treatment method.