This study evaluates the differences between risk predictors and risk perception regarding water pollution. Specifically, it focuses on the differences in risk perception between factory workers and lay people situated in textile industries near the River Sosiani in Eldoret, Kenya. The lay people are divided into two groups. The respondents living downstream are situated mostly in town centers and at the mid/lower parts of the river, and the respondents living upstream are mainly found at the upper parts of the River Sosiani. Data were obtained from 246 participants using questionnaires. Several factors influencing risk perception were selected to evaluate the degree of perceived risk amongst the groups. Descriptive statistics, mean score and correlation analyses, and multiple linear regression models were used to analyse the data. The one-way ANOVA results showed statistically different levels of risk perceptions amongst the groups. The partial and bivariate correlation analyses revealed the differences in scientific knowledge between respondents upstream and downstream. The multiple linear regression analysis showed that each group used different variables to determine risks in the region. In the factory group, 56.1% of the variance in risk perception is significantly predicted by sensorial factors, trust in the government’s capacity to manage water pollution and the impact of water pollution on human health. About 65.9% of the variance in risk perception of the downstream inhabitants is significantly predicted by sensorial factors, the possibility of industries generating water pollution, and previous experience with water pollution. For the respondents located upstream, age, sensorial factors, trust in the government and the possibility of being impacted by water pollution factors significantly predicted 37.05% of the variance in risk perception. These findings indicate that enhanced public participation in water governance amongst the residents of Eldoret town is needed, along with an understanding of the different characteristics of the respondents in the region during risk communication. This will boost awareness in the region and promote the adoption of better practices to minimise the adverse effects of water pollution faced by the region.
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