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.

New Paper in Water Alternatives

13 09 2012

The first paper from our research on the productive use of rural domestic water in Senegal will be published in Water Alternatives (Volume 5, Issue 3). The abstract to the paper is included below.

ABSTRACT: Enhancing livelihoods and promoting gender equity are primary goals of rural development programmes in Africa. This article explores the role of productive water use in relation to these goals based on 1860 household surveys and 15 women’s focus groups conducted in four regions of Senegal with small-scale piped water systems. The piped systems can be considered ‘domestic plus’ systems because they were designed primarily for domestic use, but also accommodate small-scale productive uses including livestock-raising and community-gardening. This research focuses on the significance of productive water use in the livelihood diversification strategies of rural women. In Senegal, we find that access to water for productive purposes is a critical asset for expanding and diversifying rural livelihoods. The time savings associated with small piped systems and the increased water available allowed women to enhance existing activities and initiate new enterprises. Women’s livelihoods were found to depend on productive use activities, namely livestock-raising and gardening, and it is estimated that one half of women’s incomes is linked to productive water use. While these findings are largely positive, we find that water service and affordability constraints limit the potential benefits of productive water use for women and the poorest groups. Implications for targeting women and the poorest groups within the domestic plus approach are discussed.

Citation: Van Houweling, E.; Hall, R.P.; Sakho Diop, A.; Davis, J. and Seiss, M. (2012) The role of productive water use in women’s livelihoods: Evidence from rural Senegal. Water Alternatives 5(3): 658-677.