Bottled or tap? Testing perceptions about water in Lebanon and Jordan

June 09, 2016
M.A. Massoud, R. Maroun, H. Abdelnabi, I.I. Jamali, and M. El-Fadel

Researchers compared water quality available in two informal settlements in Lebanon and Jordan. Tests were conducted to compare water supplied by the municipality and bottled water. The results: tests showed that their quality is similar, although the brand of the bottled water and how it is stored affected its quality. 

These results revealed no big benefit in buying bottled water for these lower-income communities in Lebanon and Jordan. Most of the residents believe that bottled water was safer, and spent their limited resources on bottled water based on this assumption. In one of the study areas, people spend almost a quarter of their monthly salary on bottled water.

According to the research, many people in these communities believe that tap water is unsafe because it looks cloudy and smells like chlorine. They are also concerned that it may be polluted. 

Local governments can help build public trust in municipal water supplies by making sure it is tested regularly and that standards are established and enforced. They can also support education and outreach programs that promote its quality. 

In addition, the bottled water industry can ensure public’s health by monitoring their sources.

M.A. Massoud, R. Maroun, H. Abdelnabi, I.I. Jamali, and M. El-Fadel compare the public perception of drinking water in two low-income communities in urban Lebanon and Jordan in their paper, Public perception and economic implications of bottled water consumption in underprivileged urban areas

Their research  is a result of a project supported by IDRC’s Climate Change and Water program, Improvement of Water and Sanitation Services: a Comparative Analysis of Tripoli (Lebanon) and Irbid (Jordan)​