Out of sight out of mind: Household perceptions of “fair” water prices in Nairobi, Kenya

EfD Discussion Paper
1 February 2023

David Fuente, Richard Mulwa, Joseph Cook


Providing piped water and sewer services is extremely capital intensive, yet most of this infrastructure is buried, hidden from citizens and ratepayers. Roman emperors built elaborate public fountains to increase the salience of massive infrastructure investments to the public, yet modern households give scarce thought to the water network that serves them. At the same time, tariffs are often too low to recover operations and maintenance costs, let alone capital replacement and system expansion. We use a field experiment to investigate whether providing 353 households in Nairobi, Kenya with information about the water infrastructure that serves them changes their perceptions of water and sewer bills. Compared to a control group, we find that providing households with verbal and visual information (in person) about the capital intensity of water service delivery in Nairobi increased their perceptions of “fair” water bills by 15% to 24% above the control mean of 404 KSH/mo. 


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Publication reference
EfD Discussion Paper 23-02
Publication | 1 March 2023