Themes / Topics Drinking Water
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Intermittent water supply management, household adaptation, & drinking water quality: A comparative study in two Chinese provinces

Abstract/Summary: Intermittent water supply (IWS) is a relatively common phenomenon across the world as well as in rural and peri-urban areas across China, though there has been little IWS-focused research from China published to date. IWS consumers typically adopt a range of strategies to cope with insufficient water supply, poor drinking water quality, and associated inconveniences. In this study, we collected a range of data from small-scale utilities and households in two IWS systems and two continuous water supply (CWS) systems, as well as from comparison groups, in Shandong and Hubei provinces. Data collection included water quality testing, interviews, and surveys on behavioral adaptations, coping strategies, water-related health perceptions, and other metrics of consumer satisfaction. Overall, we found that the IWS coping strategies employed in northern China (Shandong) were associated with generally safe, but inconvenient, water access, whereas adaptation strategies observed in southern China (Hubei) appeared to improve convenience, but not water quality. Compared to the CWS comparison groups, we did not observe significant differences in waterand sanitation-related behaviors in the IWS groups, suggesting interventions to increase adaptive and protective behaviors at the household level might further improve safe water access for households living with IWS. Overall, although the water supply infrastructure in these study areas appeared to be in relatively good condition, in contrast to reported data on IWS systems in other countries, we observed multiple risk factors associated with the water treatment and distribution processes in these IWS systems. Among policy recommendations, our results suggest that the implementation of Water Safety Plans in China would likely improve the management of drinking water treatment and, by extension, safe drinking water supply under conditions of IWS.

The Rural Water Livelihoods Index. Working Paper

Abstract/Summary: The Rural Water Livelihood Index (RWLI) is calculated on the basis of components and indicator values representing each of these four dimensions. The resulting composite index reflects the values for these four dimensions, and on this basis, judgements can be made on how water management might be improved. Each of the four dimensions (components) of the RWLI are represented by two subcomponents, which are combined using a weighted average. In this report, this framework is applied at the national scale, but the approach can be used at any scale as long as appropriate data is available. The purpose of the RWLI is to provide policy makers and planners at the national level an overview of where their country stands relative to others (much like the Human Development Index), and relative to themselves over time, to examine and monitor progress being made as a result of actions taken. This in turn will hopefully allow for better targeted water related interventions to improve rural livelihoods. Through the measurement of these key components, it will be possible to assess which of the four dimensions are most likely to benefit from interventions. Appropriate interventions are context-specific and will have to be identified on a country-by-country basis since contexts differ so widely (i.e., responses to address the reported states will be country and site-specific). However, a general Response Matrix is being developed to provide planners and policy makers a conceptual framework to guide this process and at a macro-level the index values help national-level planners identify which sectors might be most in need of assistance.

The Multidimensional Poverty Assessment Tool: Brochure (& Infographics)

Abstract/Summary: The Multidimensional Poverty Assessment Tool (MPAT) provides data that can inform all levels of decision making by providing a clearer understanding of rural poverty at the household and village level. As a result, MPAT can significantly strengthen the planning, design, monitoring and evaluation of a project, and thereby contribute to rural poverty reduction.

This brochure explains:

    • What MPAT is
    • How MPAT works
    • When to use MPAT and why
    • How to use MPAT
    • What resources are available for implementing MPAT

The tool allows project managers, government officials, researchers and others to identify and monitor sectors that require support in order to reduce rural poverty and improve livelihoods. It also provides an objective means of justifying resource allocation or planning priorities. MPAT is based on a bottom-up, participatory approach that reflects communities’ voices, wants and perspectives.

The Multidimensional Poverty Assessment Tool: User’s Guide

Abstract/Summary: The Multidimensional Poverty Assessment Tool (MPAT) provides a method for simplifying the complexity of rural poverty in order to support poverty alleviation efforts. MPAT uses thoroughly designed and tested purpose-built surveys to collect data on people’s perceptions about fundamental and interconnected aspects of their lives, livelihoods and environments. Standardized indicators, developed through a comprehensive participatory process, are then employed to combine, distil and present these data in an accessible way. MPAT was developed through a participatory, collaborative process based on expert feedback from dozens of international development experts from IFAD, other United Nations agencies, international and regional organizations, and universities from around the world. It was field-tested in countries in both Asia and Africa. In the pages that follow, we explain what MPAT is, how it works and how it is used, providing step-by-step instructions, training materials and other resources. The ultimate objective of this User’s Guide and the accompanying Excel Spreadsheet is to make MPAT a truly free and open-source tool, so that any institution or agency, big or small, may implement MPAT on its own.

The Multidimensional Poverty Assessment Tool: Design, development & application of a new framework for measuring rural poverty

Abstract/Summary: The purpose of this book is to describe the theoretical foundations upon which the Multidimensional Poverty Assessment Tool (MPAT) was built, to tell the story of how it was created, developed, tested and piloted in rural China and India, and to explain how MPAT can be used to benefit rural communities around the world. Lasting poverty alleviation is achieved by fostering a comprehensive enabling environment within which people have a sufficiently high level of well-being and are able to pursue their livelihood goals based on their aspirations and initiative. To ensure that such environments are in place requires, at a minimum, an understanding of the key constraints rural people face – the fundamental dimensions central to their lives and livelihoods. MPAT does not try to define rural poverty per se; rather it takes a step back from assessment modalities that are overly focused on economic- and consumption-oriented indicators and strives to provide an overview of fundamental and relatively universal dimensions germane to rural livelihoods, rural life, and thus to rural poverty. By summarizing rural communities’ perceptions about key dimensions of rural poverty and focusing them through a quantitative lens, MPAT transparently illuminates problem areas so that all stakeholders can see where deficiencies lie and can begin to discuss which interventions may be most appropriate to address them, based on the local context.

The impacts of socioeconomic development on rural drinking water safety in China: A provincial-level comparative analysis

Abstract/Summary:In China, achieving rural drinking water safety—meaning access to a safe, affordable, sufficient, and sustainable drinking water supply—remains a key challenge for government agencies and researchers. Using cross-sectional data at the provincial level, in this paper we examine the impacts of socioeconomic development on drinking water safety in rural China. Using a theoretical framework called Pressure-State-Response (PSR), existing data were organized into state and pressure indicators. Canonical Correlation Analysis was then used to analyze provincial-level relationships between the indicators. Significant drinking-water-safety-related differences were found across provinces. Our analyses suggest that, overall, China’s recent and rapid socioeconomic development yielded substantial benefits for China’s rural drinking water safety. However, this same development also negatively impacted rural drinking water safety via increased groundwater over-abstraction, reductions in water supply, and environmental contamination. The paper closes with a discussion of implications and options for improving drinking water policy, management, and regulation in rural China.

Fuel use trends for boiling water in rural China (1992-2012) & environmental health implications: A national cross-sectional study

Abstract/Summary:Survey data from a comprehensive national survey of ∼34 000 households were analyzed for the mix status and transition trajectory of energy for boiling water in rural Chinese households from 1992 to 2012. In 1992, ∼6% of households reported using electricity, biogas, or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) to boil drinking water; in 2012, the proportion was ∼60%. Income per capita appeared most strongly associated with this transition toward electricity and other clean fuels. Median annual incomes for households using biomass fuels, electric kettles, and LPG were RMB 15 000, 28 000, and 30 000, respectively. Overall, the transition was most pronounced in eastern China, a region which experienced relatively higher rates of economic growth over the same 20-year period. Energy type preferences appear to be highly dependent on fuel accessibility such that coal and straw usage was higher in provinces with higher coal and grain production. These trends suggest that electric kettle use would likely increase from ∼29% (2012) to ∼60% by 2030, at which point <5% of rural households would be expected to boil with solid fuels. Recent evidence suggests that this transition could contribute to reductions in water-related gastrointestinal illness as well as reductions in air pollutant emissions in rural China.

The global risks of increasing reliance on bottled water

Abstract/Summary: The rapid growth of bottled water use in low- and middle-income countries, and its normalization as a daily source of drinking water, does not provide a pathway to universal access. Generous and sustained investment in centralized and community utilities remains the most viable means for achieving safe water access for allWe recommend that the international development community and LMIC governments accept that full-cost recovery from a low-income customer base is not realistic, and that they actively invest in regulated utilities or community-scale models as the most sustainable options for delivering universal safe water access. This will take time, of course. Consumer confidence in the safety of utility supplied water should be fortified along the way with water quality reports and, perhaps, ‘marketing’ messages. These recommendations are not new, but they bear repeating in an era of explosive growth in, and de facto normalization of, market-driven approaches to ‘safe water for all’. In the meantime, non-tap treatment options that are known to be effective and affordable, but that may achieve only partial uptake, should be subsidized and more aggressively promoted. If, on the other hand, governments and development agencies allow the bottled water sector to continue meeting the rising demand for safe water in LMICs, then access will indeed expand by 2030, but it will not be reliably safe or universally affordable. The SDG for drinking water is a public commitment, and history is clear: public commitments need public investment.