New Paper in Water

24 09 2019

In 2012, I had the pleasure of meeting Raj GC at a Multiple-Use Water Services (MUS) retreat at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center in Italy. Raj is located on the top right of the picture below that was taken during the retreat. Four years later, Raj left his home in Nepal to join our PhD program in Planning, Governance, and Globalization (PGG) at Virginia Tech, to study the impacts of MUS in Nepal. On Monday, the first paper of his dissertation was published that explores whether the design of rural water systems in the mid-hills of Nepal impacts how households use water. The paper is open access (thanks to Virginia Tech’s Open Access Subvention Fund) and can be accessed by selecting the title of the paper below.

Abstract

In Nepal, rural water systems (RWS) are classified by practitioners as single-use domestic water systems (SUS) or multiple-use water systems (MUS). In the rural hills of Nepal, subsistence farming communities typically use RWS to support income-generating productive activities that can enhance rural livelihoods. However, there is limited research on the extent of existing productive activity and the factors enabling these activities. This paper examines the extent of water-related productive activities and the factors driving these activities based on a study, undertaken between October 2017 to June 2018, of 202 households served from five single-use domestic water systems and five multiple use water systems in the mid-hills of Nepal. The research found that a majority (94%) of these households engaged in two or more productive activities including growing vegetables and horticulture crops, raising livestock, and producing biogas and Rakshi (locally-produced alcohol), regardless of the system design, i.e., SUS vs. MUS. Around 90% of the households were engaged in productive activities that contributed to over 10% of their mean annual household income ($4,375). Since the SUS vs. MUS classification was not found to be a significant determinant of the extent of productive activity, the households were reclassified as having high or low levels of productive activity based on the quantity of water used for these activities and the associated earned income. A multinomial logistic regression model was developed to measure the relative significance of various predictors of high productive activity households. Five dominant predictors were identified: households that farm as a primary occupation, use productive technologies, are motivated to pursue productive activities, have received water-related productive activity training, and have received external support related to productive activities. Whereas MUS are designed for productive activity, nearly every household in SUS communities was involved in productive activities making them ‘de-facto’ MUS. These results challenge the current approach to rural water provision that views SUS and MUS as functionally different services.





New Paper in Sustainability

21 02 2017

A new paper by Shyam Ranganathan, Raj GC, and I was recently published in Sustainability. The paper presents a way to advance an interconnected set of SDGs and targets through a multiple-use water services (MUS) approach to rural water delivery.

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Abstract: The 2030 agenda presents an integrated set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and targets that will shape development activities for the coming decade. The challenge now facing development organizations and governments is how to operationalize this interconnected set of goals and targets through effective projects and programs. This paper presents a micro-level modeling approach that can quantitatively assess the impacts associated with rural water interventions that are tailored to specific communities. The analysis focuses on how a multiple-use water services (MUS) approach to SDG 6 could reinforce a wide range of other SDGs and targets. The multilevel modeling framework provides a generalizable template that can be used in multiple sectors. In this paper, we apply the methodology to a dataset on rural water services from Mozambique to show that community-specific equivalents of macro-level variables used in the literature such as Cost of Illness (COI) avoided can provide a better indication of the impacts of a specific intervention. The proposed modeling framework presents a new frontier for designing projects in any sector that address the specific needs of communities, while also leveraging the knowledge gained from previous projects in any country. The approach also presents a way for agencies and organizations to design projects or programs that bridge sectors/disciplines (water, irrigation, health, energy, economic development, etc.) to advance an interconnected set of SDGs and targets.

Citation: Hall, R.P.; Ranganathan, S.; G. C., R.K. A General Micro-Level Modeling Approach to Analyzing Interconnected SDGs: Achieving SDG 6 and More through Multiple-Use Water Services (MUS). Sustainability 2017, 9(2), 314.





Public Health Grand Rounds Seminar – 12pm, Oct 22 (Webcast)

19 10 2015

At 12pm on Thursday, October 22, Sophie Wenzel and I will give a seminar on our research group’s work relating to rural water services planning. We will support the presentation with a story map that can be accessed by clicking on the image below.

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Since the webcast will not enable viewers to ask questions, I have set up a public Google Doc in which viewers can ask questions or provide feedback/comments. We will do our best to respond to these questions at the end of our presentation. If we run out of time, I will post a written response to questions we were unable to address on this blog.

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The MUS-Senegal Trilogy

3 10 2015

Our final paper related to multiple-use water services (MUS) in Senegal was recently published in Water Alternatives. This paper completes our trilogy of papers in which we [1] explore the extent of piped-water-based productive activity occurring in Senegal and how this relates to system performance, [2] study the role of productive water use in women’s livelihoods, and [3] undertake an incremental income-cost (I-C) analysis of whether the theoretical financial benefits to households from additional piped-water-based productive activities would be greater than the estimated system upgrade costs.

These three papers capture the main findings from our study of MUS in Senegal and offer some important empirical research on the emerging concept of MUS.21
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Policy Brief: The Human Right to Domestic and Productive Water

25 08 2015

In 2010, a milestone was reached when the UN General Assembly recognized the human right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation. Yet, water also 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 not operationalized. This (draft) policy brief argues for a more holistic interpretation of existing international human rights law that supports a broader range of water-related rights. In addition, it raises the question of whether the current formulation of the human right to safe and clean drinking water, could limit development opportunities for people in rural and peri-urban communities who also use water for productive activities around the homestead.

We would welcome any comments you might have on this policy brief that should be viewed as a working draft.

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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 in Water Alternatives on MUS

2 10 2014

The Productive Use of Rural Piped Water in Senegal

Ralph P. Hall, Eric A. Vance, and Emily van Houweling

Abstract: 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.

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