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CID Research Fellow and Graduate Student Working Paper No. 49

April 2011

Communal Taps: Assessing the Impacts of Shared Piped Water Supplies in Rural Kyrgyzstan

Robyn Meeks

Abstract

Although shared piped water supply systems are an increasingly popular way of providing “improved water sources” in developing countries, little rigorous evidence exists on the benefits of such systems. To fill this gap, the research presented in this paper assesses a large-scale infrastructure project implemented in rural Kyrgyzstan. Using data on the scoring system designed to select villages for the project, this paper exploits a non-linearity that exists in the likelihood of being selected to identify the impacts of these improved water sources on village, household, and individual-level health-related outcomes. In doing so, the paper overcomes endogeneity concerns due to non-random village selection. The infrastructure project did improve water access in villages that are selected to receive a water supply system; households in such villages are less likely to use an unprotected source for their household water and are more likely to use a primary water source that is located less than 200 meters from the house. This results in a significant decrease in the village-level incidence of two water-related diseases, acute intestinal infections and Hepatitis A, in children 5 years old and younger. An analysis of impacts on incidence of a disease less likely to be directly affected by water access, specifically acute respiratory infections, was performed as a robustness check. As was hypothesized, there is no evidence that the improved water supply systems reduce acute respiratory infections.

Keywords: water provision, public health, project evaluation, regression discontinuity, Kyrgyzstan

JEL subject codes: H41, H43, I18, Q25, Q56

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