Perception of drinking water safety and factors influencing acceptance and sustainability of a water quality intervention in rural southern India
Francis, Mark R
Mohan, Venkata R
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Abstract Background Acceptance and long-term sustainability of water quality interventions are pivotal to realizing continued health benefits. However, there is limited research attempting to understand the factors that influence compliance to or adoption of such interventions. Methods Eight focus group discussions with parents of young children - including compliant and not compliant households participating in an intervention study, and three key-informant interviews with village headmen were conducted between April and May 2014 to understand perceptions on the effects of unsafe water on health, household drinking water treatment practices, and the factors influencing acceptance and sustainability of an ongoing water quality intervention in a rural population of southern India. Results The ability to recognize health benefits from the intervention, ease of access to water distribution centers and the willingness to pay for intervention maintenance were factors facilitating acceptance and sustainability of the water quality intervention. On the other hand, faulty perceptions on water treatment, lack of knowledge about health hazards associated with drinking unsafe water, false sense of protection from locally available water, resistance to change in taste or odor of water and a lack of support from male members of the household were important factors impeding acceptance and long term use of the intervention. Conclusion This study highlights the need to effectively involve communities at important stages of implementation for long term success of water quality interventions. Timely research on the factors influencing uptake of water quality interventions prior to implementation will ensure greater acceptance and sustainability of such interventions in low income settings.