Risk Management in a Developing Country Context: Improving Decisions About Point-of-Use Water Treatment Among the Rural Poor in Africa


  • Joseph Arvai,

    Corresponding author
    1. Haskayne School of Business, and the Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment, and Economy, University of Calgary, 440 Scurfield Hall, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
    2. Decision Research, 1201 Oak Street, Eugene, OR 97401, USA.
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  • Kristianna Post

    1. Center for the Advanced Study of International Development, Michigan State University, 305 Natural Resources Building, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA.
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Joseph Arvai, University of Calgary, 440 Scurfield Hall, 2500 University Drive NW, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 1N4; arvai@ucalgary.ca


More than 1 billion people, the vast majority of which live in the developing world, lack basic access to clean water for domestic use. For this reason, finding and promoting effective and sustainable solutions for the provision of reliable clean water in developing nations has become a focus of several public health and international development efforts. Even though several means of providing centrally located sources of clean water in developing communities exist, the severity and widespread nature of the water problem has led most development agencies and sanitation experts to strongly advocate the use of point-of-use treatment systems alongside whatever source of water people regularly use. In doing so, however, development practitioners have been careful to point out that any interventions or infrastructure regarding water safety and human health must also adhere to one of the central principles of international development: to facilitate more democratic and participatory models of decision making and governance. To this end, the research reported here focused on the development of a deliberative risk management framework for involving affected stakeholders in decisions about POU water treatment systems. This research, which was grounded in previous studies of structured decision making, took place in two rural villages in the East African nation of Tanzania.