Health, and in turn income and welfare, depend on access to safe drinking water. Although the majority of rural households worldwide obtain drinking water from community water sources, there is limited evidence about how effectively these sources provide safe drinking water. This study combines a randomized experiment with water quality testing to evaluate the impact of a program that provides community deep tubewells in rural Bangladesh. The program reduces exposure to arsenic, a major natural pollutant, but not fecal contamination. Households may use fewer sources with fecal contamination, but any such effects are offset by recontamination through transport and possibly storage. The results suggest that while community deep-tubewell construction programs may reduce exposure to arsenic in Bangladesh, reducing exposure to fecal contamination may require interventions that go beyond community sources.
- safe drinking water
- deep tubewells