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.
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 presentation given by Ralph Hall, Emily Van Houweling, Eric Vance, Mark Seiss (Virginia Tech) and Jenna Davis (Stanford University) on productive use of domestic rural water systems : the Senegal case, at the 2012 MUS-group meeting in Washington, DC.