There is growing evidence that rural and peri-urban households depend on water not only for basic domestic needs but also for a wide variety of livelihood activities. In recognition of this reality, an alternative approach to water service planning, known as multiple-use water services (MUS), has emerged to design water services around householdsʼ multiple water needs. The benefits of MUS are diverse and include improved health, food security, income generation, and women’s empowerment. A common argument put forth by WASH sector professionals in favour of upgrading existing water systems is that productive water uses allow for income generation that, in turn, enhances the ability to pay for services. However, there has been limited rigorous research to assess whether the additional income generated from productive use activities justifies water service upgrading costs. This paper describes an income-cost (I-C) analysis based on survey data and EPANET models for 47 domestic-plus water systems in rural Senegal to assess whether the theoretical financial benefits to households from additional piped-water-based productive activities would be greater than the estimated system upgrade costs. The paper provides a transparent methodology for performing an I-C analysis. We find that the potential incremental income earned by upgrading the existing domestic-plus systems to provide intermediate-level MUS would be equivalent to the funds needed to recover the system upgrade costs in just over one year. Thus, hypothetically, water could pay for water. A sensitivity analysis shows that even with a 55% reduction in household income earned per cubic meter of water, the incremental income is still greater than the upgrade costs over a ten-year period for the majority of the systems.
Agricultural Water Management (AWM) is essential to food security, but it also plays a fundamental role in building human capital in rural areas. This checklist on gender in AWM recognises the importance of multiple-use in that.
Men and women often have different roles and needs in the use and management of water resources. In addition, access to, rights to and control over water (and land) also tends to be different for women and men worldwide and in part, reflects existing social relations in power. Policy and decision-making regarding land and water management have traditionally been the domain of men. As a result policies and programs do not always consider women’s unique knowledge, needs or unequal ownership and benefit rights. Particularly successful Agricultural Water Management (AWM) projects:
• Prevent elites from capturing project benefits and extends these benefits to a much larger population base to include large and small scale women farmers, landless women, female land owners and wage labourers as well as other categories of women farmers;
• Address both women and men’s domestic and productive water needs. To date, many single-sector projects are implemented for either irrigation or domestic water supply, rather than both, which overlooks the multiple-use needs of rural communities;
• Explicitly seek to increase women’s capacity to participate in domestic water and irrigation projects and plan for ways to increase women’s access to other productive resources;
• Encompass an approach that takes into account the social, economic and institutional realities of the project area and allocates resources to studies which consider these issues in the planning stage.
Over the past decade there has been a growing interest in the potential benefits related to the productive use of rural piped water around the homestead. However, there is limited empirical research on the extent to which, and conditions under which, this activity occurs. Using data obtained from a comprehensive study of 47 rural piped water systems in Senegal, this paper reveals the extent of piped-water-based productive activity occurring and identifies important system-level variables associated with this activity. Three-quarters (74%) of the households surveyed depend on water for their livelihoods with around one-half (54%) relying on piped water. High levels of piped-water-based productive activity were found to be associated with shorter distances from a community to a city or paved road (i.e. markets), more capable water system operators and water committees, and communities that contributed to the construction of the piped water system. Further, access to electricity was associated with higher productive incomes from water-based productive activities, highlighting the role that non-water-related inputs have on the extent of productive activities undertaken. Finally, an analysis of the technical performance of piped water systems found no statistically significant association between high vs. low levels of productive activity and system performance; however, a positive relationship was found between system performance and the percentage of households engaged in productive activities.
A mix of secondary and primary research was conducted to examine the hypothesis that access to an at-house water supply will deliver significantly greater health, social and economic benefits than those derived from a shared public water supply. The research was carried out by a team from the University of Leeds, University of North Carolina, University of East Anglia, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and University College London, and was based on a mix of literature review and field-base case studies. Fieldwork was carried out in three countries; Ghana, South Africa and Vietnam and used a mix of data collection methods, specifically a three-part household questionnaire, which included anthropometric measures and the measurement of water collection journeys, natural group discussions, and contextual checklists.
The headline conclusion from the research is that at-home water supply has significant, measurable benefits when compared with shared water supply outside the home provided that the service provided is reliable enough to ensure access to adequate quantities of water when required. Reliable at-home water supply results in higher volumes of water consumed, greater practice of key hygiene behaviours, a reduction in musculo-skeletal impacts associated with carrying water from outside the home, and improved water quality. This suggests a logical policy shift towards the promotion of reliable household access as the international benchmark for water supply.
Report by B. Evans, J. Bartram, P. Hunter, A.R. Williams, J.A. Geere, B. Majuru, L. Bates, M. Fisher, A. Overbo, W.P. Schmidt available on DFID's Research for Development site.
Divisions between communities, disciplinary and practice, impede understanding of how complex interventions in health and other sectors actually work and slow the development and spread of more effective ones. We test this hypothesis by re-reviewing a Cochrane-standard systematic review (SR) of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) interventions’ impact on child diarrhoea morbidity: can greater understanding of impacts and how they are achieved be gained when the same papers are reviewed jointly from health and development perspectives?
Using realist review methods, researchers examined the 27 papers for evidence of other impact pathways operating than assumed in the papers and SR. Evidence relating to four questions was judged on a scale of likelihood. At the ‘more than possible’ or ‘likely’ level, 22% of interventions were judged to involve substantially more actions than the SR’s label indicated; 37% resulted in substantial additional impacts, beyond reduced diarrhoea morbidity; and unforeseen actions by individuals, households or communities substantially contributed to the impacts in 48% of studies. In 44%, it was judged that these additional impacts and actions would have substantially affected the intervention’s effect on diarrhoea morbidity. The prevalence of these impacts and actions might well be found greater in studies not so narrowly selected. We identify six impact pathways suggested by these studies that were not considered by the SR: these are tentative, given the limitations of the literature we reviewed, but may help stimulate wider review and primary evaluation efforts.
This re-review offers a fuller understanding of the impacts of these interventions and how they are produced, pointing to several ways in which investments might enhance health and wellbeing. It suggests that some conclusions of the SR and earlier reviews should be reconsidered. Moreover, it contributes important experience to the continuing debate on appropriate methods to evaluate and synthesize evidence on complex interventions.
Open access article by Michael Loevinsohn, Lyla Mehta, Katie Cuming, Alan Nicol, Oliver Cumming and Jeroen H. J. Ensink published in the Oxford journal Health and Policy Planning.