08. The role of improved domestic water supply in livelihoods

08. The role of improved domestic water supply in livelihoods

Title 08. The role of improved domestic water supply in livelihoods
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of PublicationSubmitted

A paper presented by Hope, P-J., Dixon, & G. von Maltitz on 21-23 January 2003, Muldersdrift, South Africa.

Managing water scarcity represents one of the key challenges in the trade-offs between economic growth, social justice and ecological integrity for developing countries. The poor are disproportionately affected by water scarcity due to their greater reliance on natural resources to generate sustainable livelihoods. Research in Limpopo Province, South Africa, is investigating the linkages between water and poverty. Domestic water supply was analysed as a potential intervention that achieves premised health benefits and a hidden leverage for productive benefits in food security for the poor. A catchment survey at the household level (n=552) is explored to unravel the linkages between domestic water provision and poverty. Findings are disaggregated according to three social cohort groups: Home husband, migrant husband and female-headed households, and by three mean household age profiles: 25-34, 35-44 and >45 years. All social cohorts undertake kitchen-garden farming as a significant livelihood activity. Over 70% of households consume all crops grown indicating the importance of this activity for food security. However, access to domestic water is disproportionately skewed in favour of the male-headed, income
wealthier households. The number of kitchen-garden crops grown is significantly associated with private water access. Willingness to pay for improved domestic water reflects current levels of delivery with older,
female-headed households reporting higher monetary values associated with lower levels of water access. The authors argue that improved domestic water access offers greater equity and food security
benefits to poorer households, but the efficiency and sustainability of such a poverty reduction intervention is questioned. [authors abstract]