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

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  • 1 Aquaya Institute, Nairobi, Kenya.
  • | 2 Aquaya Institute, Larkspur, California.
  • | 3 Water and Sanitation Program, World Bank, Nairobi, Kenya.
  • | 4 Water and Sanitation Program, World Bank, Washington, District of Columbia.
  • | 5 Uhl and Associates, Inc., Lambertville, New Jersey.
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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.

Author Notes

* Address correspondence to Emily Kumpel, Aquaya Institute, Nairobi 00505, Kenya. E-mail: emily@aquaya.org

Financial support: This research was supported by independent consulting contracts from the Water and Sanitation Program of the World Bank (http://www.wsp.org) to The Aquaya Institute and Uhl and Associates, Inc. The consulting contracts supported contributions by Emily Kumpel, Jeff Albert, Rachel Peletz, Vincent Uhl, Ashish Daw, and Ranjiv Khush to the study design, data collection and analysis, and manuscript preparation.

Disclosure: Dominick de Waal, Maximilian Hirn, and Alexander Danilenko are employees of the Water and Sanitation Program of the World Bank, which funded this research. The study results were not subject to any restrictions or qualifications by the World Bank.

Authors' addresses: Emily Kumpel and Rachel Peletz, Aquaya Institute, Nairobi, Kenya, E-mails: emily@aquaya.org and rachel@aquaya.org. Jeff Albert and Ranjiv Khush, Aquaya Institute, Larkspur, CA, E-mails: jeff@aquaya.org and ranjiv@aquaya.org. Dominick de Waal and Maximilian Hirn, Water and Sanitation Program, World Bank, Nairobi, Kenya, E-mails: ddewaal@worldbank.org and mhirn@worldbank.org. Alexander Danilenko, Water and Sanitation Program, World Bank, Washington, District of Columbia, E-mail: adanilenko@worldbank.org. Vincent Uhl and Ashish Daw, Uhl and Associates, Inc., Lambertville, NJ, E-mails: vuhl@vuawater.com and adaw@vuawater.com.

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