MUS Research in Burkina Faso

1 07 2015

On Sunday, our research team – consisting of Emily Van Houweling, Sophie Wenzel, Nicholas Polys, Paige Williams, and I – arrived in Burkina Faso to study the water accounting process developed by Winrock International as part of their Multiple-Use Water Services (MUS) project. Our team will be here for two weeks, during which we will visit project communities and identify opportunities to further advance the water accounting process by drawing on the unique skill set of the research team.

Emily Van Houweling, Sophie Wenzel, Paige Williams, Ralph Hall, and Nicholas Polys

Emily Van Houweling, Sophie Wenzel, Paige Williams, Ralph Hall, and Nicholas Polys

Winrock’s MUS project is one of several funded by the USAID WA-WASH (West Africa Water Supply, Sanitation, and Hygiene) Program. The WA-WASH program focuses on increasing sustainable access to safe water and sanitation and improved hygiene in Burkina Faso, Ghana, and Niger. The program is a complex endeavor that includes some thirteen partners and is led by Florida International University (FIU).

This research expedition was made possible by a grant from Virginia Tech’s Institute for Environment, Culture, and Environment.





New Paper on The Human Right to Water

15 12 2013

ScienceThe Human Right to Water: The Importance of Domestic and Productive Water Rights

Ralph P. Hall, Barbara Van Koppen, Emily Van Houweling

Science and Engineering Ethics

Abstract

The United Nations (UN) Universal Declaration of Human Rights engenders important state commitments to respect, fulfill, and protect a broad range of socio-economic rights. In 2010, a milestone was reached when the UN General Assembly recognized the human right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation. However, water plays an important role in realizing other human rights such as the right to food and livelihoods, and in realizing the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. These broader water-related rights have been recognized but have not yet been operationalized. This paper unravels these broader water-related rights in a more holistic interpretation of existing international human rights law. By focusing on an emerging approach to water services provision—known as ‘domestic-plus’ services—the paper argues how this approach operationalizes a comprehensive range of socio-economic rights in rural and peri-urban areas. Domestic-plus services provide water for domestic and productive uses around homesteads, which challenges the widespread practice in the public sector of planning and designing water infrastructure for a single-use. Evidence is presented to show that people in rural communities are already using their water supplies planned for domestic uses to support a wide range of productive activities. Domestic-plus services recognize and plan for these multiple-uses, while respecting the priority for clean and safe drinking water. The paper concludes that domestic-plus services operationalize the obligation to progressively fulfill a comprehensive range of indivisible socio-economic rights in rural and peri-urban areas.

Download or Read Paper On-line





Congratulations Emily Van Houweling!

4 04 2013

On March 29, Emily Van Houweling successfully defended her dissertation entitled “Gender, Water, and Development: The multiple impacts and perspectives of a rural water project in Nampula, Mozambique.”

Emily was a doctoral candidate in the Planning, Governance, and Globalization (PGG) program at Virginia Tech, and over the past several years has become a highly valued team member on two large-scale research projects in Senegal and Mozambique. The slide show below provides a few pictures of Emily in the field.

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Development organizations claim that rural water projects deliver a wide variety of benefits – from poverty reduction to women’s empowerment. Emily’s research explores these claims in the context of a rural water project (RWP) in Nampula, Mozambique. From August of 2011 to July of 2012, Emily spent 11 months conducting ethnographic research in five communities where handpumps were installed as part of the RWP. The goal of her research was to describe how the water project unfolds “on the ground” from the perspective of men and women in Nampula, and illuminate the social and gender related impacts of the project that are not captured in standard evaluations. Emily’s research contributes to theoretical debates about the relationship between gender, water, and development, and also offers practical suggestions for designing water projects that are more equitable, culturally sensitive, and sustainable.

I served as the chair of Emily’s dissertation committee along with committee members Maria Elisa Christie, Keith Moore, and Brett Shadle.