Last week I completed a module for the Deans’ Semester on Global Challenges that began in Riva San Vitale, Switzerland, then moved to Geneva, and ended in Senegal. During this module, students explored the global food challenge, paying specific attention to sustainable agricultural practices, the food-water-energy nexus, agricultural education, (mal)nutrition, and value/supply chains. After exploring these subjects, we engaged with professionals working on various aspects of the global food challenge and met with faculty and students studying agricultural systems and entrepreneurship at two universities in Senegal.
The images below provide a snapshot of the various activities we were able to undertake during this course. Click here for a Google-created video of our time at Lake Retb (the Pink Lake) in Senegal.
We recently published in the Journal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development the final paper related to our MUS research in Senegal. I have provided the abstract to the paper below.
Abstract: In 2015, African ministers established the Ngor Declaration to achieve universal access to adequate sanitation and hygiene services and eliminate open defecation by 2030. Realizing this target will require significant public and private investment. Over the last two decades, there has been increasing recognition that sanitation programs should be demand driven, yet limited information exists about how much rural residents in developing countries are willing to pay for sanitation improvements. This paper applies the contingent valuation approach to evaluate how much households in rural Senegal are willing to pay for a ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrine. The analysis uses data from 1,635 household surveys that were conducted in 47 rural communities across four regions in Senegal. The willingness to pay model found that respondents were more willing to pay for a VIP latrine if they had plans to improve their existing latrine, lived in districts located nearer to the capital city of Dakar, were dissatisfied with their existing sanitation service, and were male. The analysis also indicates that the current household contribution of 5% of the costs of constructing a VIP latrine could be increased to 30% with only a modest decline in the number of households willing to pay this amount.
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  explore the extent of piped-water-based productive activity occurring in Senegal and how this relates to system performance,  study the role of productive water use in women’s livelihoods, and  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.
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.
The 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
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
In May 2013, Yakhya (Aicha) Diagne successfully defended her thesis entitled “Planning for Sustainable Development in Senegal.” Aicha’s research focused on understanding the complex institutional, legal, and political aspects of sustainable development planning in Senegal and identified options to advance the national planning framework to promote more sustainable forms of development. Aicha received a 2012 ThinkSwiss research scholarship that enabled her to undertake part of her research at the UN in Geneva, Switzerland.
Prior to coming to Virginia Tech, Aicha led the Office of Legal Affairs, Communication, Monitoring, and Evaluation in the Senegalese Department of Environment and Classified Establishments. She also managed the Technical Permanent Secretary of the Senegalese National Commission of Sustainable Development from 2008 to 2010.
Aicha is currently undertaking an internship at the West African Development Bank in Lome, Togo. After completing the internship, she will begin a position in the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development in Senegal.
I served as the chair of Aicha thesis committee, along with committee members John Browder and John Randolph.
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.
On August 30, 2012, I will be taking part in a seminar on “Scaling Pathways for Multiple-Use Services, for Food Security and Health,” at the 2012 Stockholm World Water Week. During my presentation, I will highlight some interesting results from our multi-country study on the productive use of rural domestic water in Senegal and Kenya. More specifically, I will discuss the relationship between the productive use of domestic water and the (technical/financial) sustainability of rural piped water systems.
Our first paper from this multi-country study on “The role of productive water use in women’s livelihoods: Evidence from rural Senegal,” will be published in the October edition of Water Alternatives. A series of other papers from this work are currently under review/development.