We analyze the impact of public water infrastructure and water handling technologies on the water quality and water handling behavior of households in rural Benin using both quasi-experimental and experimental household-level panel data. We find that the installation of improved village-level water sources induces households to reduce water disinfection efforts at home, indicating that households perceive improved public water infrastructure as a substitute for improved water handling to obtain safe drinking water. Consequently, point-of-use drinking water quality does not change. A reduction of contamination with E. coli at points of use can only be achieved if interventions providing drinking water technologies at the water source are complemented by household-level interventions and efforts to teach households how to maintain good water quality.
Development Engineering, Volume 7, January 2022,