July 2016

Urban Water Services in Fragile States: An Analysis of Drinking Water Sources and Quality in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, and Monrovia, Liberia

Kumpel, E., Peletz, R., Albert, J., de Waal, D., Hirn, M., Danilenko, A., Uhl, V., Daw, A., Khush, R. (2016). Urban Water Services in Fragile States: A Comparison of Water Quality Between Port Harcourt, Nigeria and Monrovia, Liberia. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 95,1: 229-238

ABSTRACT

Establishing and maintaining public water services in fragile states is a significant development challenge. In anticipation of water infrastructure investments, this study compares drinking water sources and quality between Port Harcourt, Nigeria, and Monrovia, Liberia, two cities recovering from political and economic instability. In both cities, access to piped water is low, and residents rely on a range of other private and public water sources. In Port Harcourt, geographic points for sampling were randomly selected and stratified by population density, whereas in Monrovia, locations for sampling were selected from a current inventory of public water sources. In Port Harcourt, the sampling frame demonstrated extensive reliance on private boreholes and a preference, in both planned and unplanned settlements, for drinking bottled and sachet water. In Monrovia, sample collection focused on public sources (predominantly shallow dug wells). In Port Harcourt, fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) were detected in 25% of sources (N = 566), though concentrations were low. In Monrovia, 57% of sources contained FIB and 22% of sources had nitrate levels that exceeded standards (N = 204). In Monrovia, the convenience of piped water may promote acceptance of the associated water tariffs. However, in Port Harcourt, the high prevalence of self-supply and bottled and sachet drinking water suggests that the consumer’s willingness to pay for ongoing municipal water supply improvements may be determined by service reliability and perceptions of water quality.

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