Original Research

Household attitudes and knowledge on drinking water enhance water hazards in peri-urban communities in Western Kenya

Kimongu J. Kioko, John F. Obiri
Jàmbá: Journal of Disaster Risk Studies | Vol 4, No 1 | a49 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jamba.v4i1.49 | © 2012 Kimongu J. Kioko, John F. Obiri | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 17 May 2012 | Published: 07 December 2012

About the author(s)

Kimongu J. Kioko, Department of Disaster Management and Sustainable Development, Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, Kenya
John F. Obiri, Department of Disaster Management and Sustainable Development, Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, Kenya


Ensuring safe drinking water remains a big challenge in developing countries where waterborne diseases cause havoc in many communities. A major challenge is limited knowledge, misinformation and attitudes that work against ensuring that drinking water is safe. This study investigated the knowledge, attitudes and practices of peri-urban households in Kakamega Town of Western Kenya, concerning the collection, treatment and storage of drinking water. Alongside this we examined the role of solid waste disposal in water safety. Three hundred and seventy eight households from four residential regions of varying economic levels were randomly sampled in Kakamega Town. Data was collected via questionnaire interviews that incorporated attitude questions based on a Likert scale of 1−5, and administered to the households and key informants. The results showed most respondents were knowledgeable about ideal methods of water collection, treatment and storage. However, they did not practise them appropriately. Some attitudes among the respondents worked against the ideals of achieving safe drinking water. For instance, many households perceived their drinking water source as safe and did not treat it, even when obtained from open sources like rivers. Further, they preferred to store drinking water in clay pots, because the pots kept the water cold, rather than use the narrow-necked containers that limit exposure to contaminants. Also, hand washing with soap was not practised enough in their daily lives to avoid contact with waterborne hazards. We recommend that the government undertake training programmes on drinking water safety that advocate appropriate water use, hygiene and sanitation strategies.


Drinking water safety; sanitation hazards; solid wastes; disaster risk reduction; Kenya


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