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Expanding Access to Clean Water for the Rural Poor: Experimental Evidence from Malawi

Pascaline Dupas, Basimenye Nhlema, Zachary Wagner, Aaron Wolf, Emily Wroe

NBER Working Paper No. 27570
Issued in July 2020
NBER Program(s):Development Economics, Health Economics

Using data from an 18-month randomized trial, we estimate large and sustained impacts on water purification and child health of a program providing monthly coupons for free water treatment solution (diluted chlorine) to households with young children. The program is more effective and much more cost-effective than asking Community Health Workers (CHWs) to distribute free chlorine to households during routine monthly visits. That is because only 40% of households make use of free chlorine, targeting through CHWs is worse than self-targeting through coupon redemption, and water treatment promotion by CHWs does not increase chlorine use among free chlorine beneficiaries. Non- use of free chlorine is driven by households who have a protected water source and those who report that chlorine makes water taste bad.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w27570

 
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