Assessing the Impact of Improved Water Supply on Health Outcomes in Rural Tanzania

Kenneth Mdadila


This paper, using quasi-experimental methods, assesses the impact of access to water from
improved sources on health outcomes of rural households in Tanzania. The study employs
Propensity Score Matching techniques in estimating the impact. The outcome variable of
interest is diarrhoea incidence among children and households, respectively, in rural
Tanzania. Results show that health impact due to improved access to water is notable
among all household members and limited among children under five years. Access to
water from improved sources reduces diarrhoea incidence by 10.2% and 2.6% among rural
households and children, respectively, in the treatment communities. The results further
show that sanitation and hygiene promotion interventions are not integrated with the
provision of water from improved sources. The mean difference between treatment and
control communities on sanitation (usage and ownership of latrine) and hygiene (handwashing
behaviours) are not statistically significant up to 10 percent.
The study draws the following policy implications:
increasing access of water from improved sources should be an integrated process packaged with sanitation and hygiene interventions since the absence of integration reduces health returns of investing in water nfrastructure;
deliberate interventions are needed to enhance mothers’ knowledge about hygiene practises for better outcomes of child health.

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