Water Insufficiency, Health Hazards and Rainwater Harvesting in North 24 Parganas, West Bengal, India: Results of a Socio-economic Survey

Article Type

Research Article

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Arthaniti: Journal of Economic Theory and Practice


Rural households suffer from various health hazards due to unsafe water. Rooftop rainwater harvesting (RRH) has been recommended by various experts as a safer alternative to contaminated ground and surface water. The rural households, however, for various reasons, may not be willing to adopt RRH. The present study was based on primary data collected from 923 rural households in 4 blocks of North 24 Parganas district, West Bengal, India to identify the socio-demographic factors influencing the occurrence of health hazards and willingness to adopt RRH (WRRH). The study was focused on how health hazards and WRRH were related to water insufficiency, water awareness, poverty level and other socio-demographic variables. RRH not only depends on its feasibility but also on the willingness of the household to install it. A set of indices, namely health hazard index (HHI), water insufficiency index (WII), water awareness action index (WAAI), willingness to adopt RRH index (WRRHI) and Poverty Level Index (PLI) were developed from the relevant indicators. A binary logistic regression of HHI and WRRH was carried out on these indices along with some other socio-demographic variables. Most of these indices were found to have a significant effect on HHI. WRRH, however, was not found to depend on these indices, rather on religious belief and awareness of the adverse effects of arsenic poisoning in the village. The study also highlights the significance of undertaking awareness programmes on the consequences of using unsafe water by the government and non-governmental organisations.

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