Early Warning Systems, Mobile Technology, and Cholera Aversion: Evidence from Rural Bangladesh

Using data from an eight month field experiment, the authors estimate how access to a smartphone application containing monthly cholera risk predictions unique to a user’s home location affects households’ knowledge about their cholera risk as well as their water use practices.

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Date

Oct. 20, 2022

Authors

Emily L. Pakhtigian, Sonia Aziz, Kevin Boyle, Ali S. Akanda, and M.A. Hanifi

Publication

Working Paper

Reading time

1 minute

Abstract

In Bangladesh, cholera poses a significant health risk. Yet, information about the nature and severity of cholera risk is limited as risk varies over time and by location and changing weather patterns have made historical cholera risk predictions less reliable. In this paper, we examine how households use geographically and temporally personalized cholera risk predictions to inform their water use behaviors. Using data from an eight month field experiment, we estimate how access to a smartphone application containing monthly cholera risk predictions unique to a user’s home location affects households’ knowledge about their cholera risk as well as their water use practices. We find that households with access to this application feel more equipped to respond to environmental and health risks they may face and reduce their reliance on surface water for bathing and washing—a common cholera transmission pathway. We do not find that households invest additional resources into drinking water treatment, nor do we find reductions in self-reported cholera incidence. Access to dynamic risk information can help households make safer water choices; tailoring information provision to those at highest risk could reduce cholera transmission in endemic areas.

Authors

Emily Pakhtigian.jpg

Emily L. Pakhtigian

Pennsylvania State University

Sonia Aziz.png

Sonia Aziz

Moravian University

Kevin Boyle.jpg

Kevin Boyle

Virginia Tech

Ali S Akanda.jpg

Ali S. Akanda

University of Rhode Island

M.A. Hanifi

International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh

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