The role of social networks on the uptake of household water filters by women in self-help groups in rural India

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Household water treatment and safe storage (HWTS) has been shown to improve drinking water quality and prevent disease. Efforts to scale up HWTS among vulnerable populations have been limited, partly due to an incomplete understanding of the socio-cultural influences on decision-making around uptake of HWTS. In-depth interviews were conducted with women in self-help groups in rural India who were exposed to a HWTS promotional campaign to investigate the influence of social networks on uptake of a household water filter. Results show discussion of the water filter amongst self-help group members, other peers, and family members allows social network members to share their opinions and purchasing intentions. This exposure is shown to shape individuals' opinions of the filter and establish purchasing norms within social networks. Within this cultural context, for high cost products like water filters, women needed to negotiate purchase with other household decision-makers. These results suggest that promoters of healthful durables like water filters must not only ensure product availability and financing, but also encourage platforms for discussion, recognize the socio-economic norms that develop around who adopts new technologies, and reach out to multiple actors in families and communities that influence individuals' behaviors and control household purchasing decisions.

Keywords: decision-making, HWTS, India, self-help groups, social network, water filter

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