WSS and Poverty

Two case studies focused on the impact that access to WSS services has on growth at household and macro level.

The study ‘WSS and Poverty – Micro level linkages in Ethiopia’ aimed to understand the impacts of access to WSS on household welfare through health impacts and increasing productivity and production. This study, which included a household survey in East Hararghe, showed that better access to water supply leads to more water consumption by households, reduced time to fetch water and increased likelihood of households to participate in off-farm productive activities. It also showed that when households with better access to water supply services also engage in productive uses like irrigation, their food poverty level in terms of incidence, depth and severity significantly reduces. Better access to water also reduces the probability of illness and related health expenditures. However, the incidence of water related illnesses seemed to increase with improved access to water supply. The implications of the findings were that improving access to water supply infrastructure alone is not sufficient to bring the desired public health benefits unless supplemented by other sanitation and hygiene interventions. Also, the impact of access to water on poverty reduction at household level is affected by access to other livelihood assets. For example asset ownership, such as; land and live stock and access to public infrastructures, such as; all-weather roads and engagement in off-farm activities are important.

The study ‘Economic impacts of access to WSS: evidence from welfare monitoring surveys’ focused on macro level impacts;, exploring the link between access to WSS services and growth related indicators. Using national CSA data, the study examined the relationship of access to WSS with productive employment, school enrolment of children, health status, self-reported food situation and overall welfare situation of households. The findings of the study showed that there is a statistically significant relationship between access to drinking water and improved household’s self reported food situation. However, a casual relationship could not be established to show that access to just drinking water leads to improved food situation. Access to sanitation on the other hand does not have a significant relationship with self reported food situation of households. The study also did not show a significant relationship between improved access to water and household’s overall welfare. Hence, the study overall gave limited evidence about the existence of significant economic benefits from just improved access to WSS services at the macro level.

Page last updated 28 Aug 2009