Determinants of households' intention to pay for improved water services : an application of the theory of reasoned action

Providing a sustainable and improved water service to the increasing urban population across the developing world remains one of the biggest challenges towards meeting the water target set out in the millennium development goals. Increasingly, the application of marketing principles to water services is being promoted as an essential requirement for providing a sustainable water service. Within the sector, marketing improved water is commonly geared towards the health benefits. However, a recent study raises doubts about the effectiveness of this approach. In this study, the theory of reasoned action was employed in examining the factors that underpin the behaviour of the urban poor towards paying for improved water services. The findings show that both perceived social pressure and household’s attitude have similar importance in predicting and explaining households’ intention to pay for improved water services. Concern for a more comfortable life was the most important predictor of households’ attitude, while ‘the family’ was the most important referent group. The study showed that there is scope for marketing improved water services using a social marketing approach. However, focusing on hygiene-related benefits is unlikely to have a significant influence on the urban poor’s intention to pay for improved water services.