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.





New Paper – WTP for VIP Latrines

15 01 2016

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.2016-01-15_1157

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.





Experience WASH in Malawi – Course Application Open

11 12 2015

If you are a student at Virginia Tech, please consider applying to the Experience WASH in Malawi study abroad course. The course will run from July 11–29, 2016 (Summer II). The application deadline is February 1, 2016.

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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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Experience WASH in Malawi (Study Abroad)

23 09 2015

If you are a Virginia Tech undergraduate or graduate, please come to the Drillfield today to learn about a new WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) course I will be offering during Summer II, 2016, in partnership with the Mzuzu University Centre of Excellence in Water and Sanitation.static_qr_code_without_logo

To keep up to date on course news, please join the Google group.

Course Flyer

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Course Information
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Images from MalawiPoster_images





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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Spring 2015 – Water Supply and Sanitation in Developing Countries

22 11 2014

UAP 5324 / BSE 4394
Instructor: Ralph P. Hall
Meets: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:30am to 10:45am
Location: MCB 219

2014-11-22_1525Course Description

In this course, we will examine the planning process for the provision of water supply and sanitation (W&S) services in developing countries. The course is structured to provide both an engineering and policy perspective on the subject. Thus, the readings, class discussions, and assignments will require students to think as both an engineer and planner/analyst. The course will begin with a review of the state of water and sanitation services in different parts of the world and will raise the question of what constitutes access to water. Following this introduction, we will study the design of important W&S technologies. We will then examine the broader environmental and public health considerations in W&S planning. Armed with an understanding of critical W&S issues and technologies, in the final section of the course we will examine key ideas/topics such as multiple-use water services, demand-oriented planning, service pricing, decentralization vs. centralization of W&S services, community participation in the planning process, and post-construction support.

Learning Objectives

Having successfully completed this course you will be able to:

1. Describe the current level of access to, and the quality of, water supply and sanitation services in one or more developing regions.

2. Outline the planning process for the provision of water supply and sanitation services in the developing region(s) studied.

3. Define the various roles of local, national, and international agencies and donors in the provision of water supply and sanitation services in developing regions.

4. Use planning-based tools to evaluate existing and proposed water supply and sanitation services in the developing region(s) studied.

5. Design policies and/or infrastructure to address identified problems with the provision/adequacy of existing water supply and sanitation services in the developing region(s) studied.

Join the Class Google+ Community





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.





FLOW – For Love of Water

23 04 2012

This Wednesday (April 25th) at 7pm, the International Relations Organization of Virginia Tech (IROVT) will be showing the documentary FLOW: For Love of Water. After the documentary, I will lead a conversation with participants on the global water crisis and what options exists to address the emerging problem.