In Malawi the major sources of water for both domestic and industrial use include lakes, rivers and ground water. Ground water is dependable for supplying water in rural areas and also in some urban areas even though this source of water is most common in the rural areas. In some urban areas, the major source of water are rivers.
According to Government of Malawi (2010), many river basins are under severe pressure resulting from deforestation, settlements, climate change, industry, mining, commerce and unsustainable agriculture. These have consequently impacted negatively on the water quality mainly due to sediment loads, industrial wastes, chemicals from agriculture and proliferation of aquatic vegetation.
In urban areas, especially areas with high concentration of people, the major problem has been management of waste disposal. This has resulted in plastics that are just littered anyhow in the major urban areas including Blantyre ending up in rivers.
Ground water though viewed as one of the safe sources of water, there are also a number of quality issues that are associated with it. According to Government of Malawi (2010), some of the issues include high concentrations of minerals such as fluoride, nitrates especially in agricultural areas, manganese and fecal matter in some areas. All in all, these issues make ground water quality to be degraded too.
It is clear from above that improvements in water quality are no longer evitable. Failure to doing this would result into further deterioration of the water resource which may in turn not be able to support human life. Being aware of this fact, the Malawi Government has been implementing a number of programs in the area of water quality improvement. Among the notable interventions by the Malawi Government include the establishment of the water boards (Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu), drilling of boreholes in some areas and provision of water treatment chemicals where necessary.
It is however evident that implementation of these water quality improvement programs requires enormous financial resource outlays by the government which is in most cases not met. As a result, government’s efforts in water quality improvement have been constrained.
One possible solution would be to raise funds to meet some of the costs in running these water improvement programs from the beneficiaries. The immediate challenge however remains that it is not known what would be the appropriate fee that would be charged to these beneficiaries and also what socio-economic factors of beneficiaries would be crucial in the designing of these programs.
This therefore, justifies the need for an empirical study on willingness to pay for improvements in water quality. Based on this, the main objective of this study is to analyze household decisions on willingness to pay for improvements in water quality in Blantyre Urban. The specific objectives of this study are to assess factors that determine household...