If you Build it, will they come? Use of Rural Drinking Water Systems in the Peruvian Amazon
While organisations across the world struggle to extend access to the 522 million living in rural areas without clean water, those who do have access do not necessarily use it. This paper explores why, within areas that have public taps with treated water, some individuals continue to use water from untreated sources. We focus on non-use of available rural water supply systems as well as inconsistent use, a phenomenon typically overlooked. Based on surveys in 12 rural communities with water systems in the Peruvian Amazon and qualitative interviews, this study finds community meeting attendance is important for consistent use as attendance increases social influence and reinforces information about the importance of clean water. Non-users are more likely to be those living furthest from the water source and with lower levels of education. Findings point to ways in which community approaches to heath interventions may be more likely to reach some – those with stronger ties to communities, who live closer and have higher levels of education – than others.