Household Expenditure on Water Service

by | Sep 12, 2013

Capturing how much time and money households are spending on water, sanitation and hygiene is notoriously under-reported in census and other national surveys. Most research into the subject is limited to analysing tariffs paid to water vendors or is based on proxy indicators of income.Financial expenditures refer to the financial transactions (e.g., tariffs, user fees) incurred by households, while economic expenditures refer, in this paper, to the time spend on fetching water. Economic expenditure is particularly relevant in the context of gender roles and the unfair burden set on women and girls, resulting in a reduction of time available for other household, educational or productive activities. This tends to exacerbate gender differences in school attendance, with negative results for the families and the overall economy.The research presented in this paper analyses household expenditure (financial and economic) on formal water sources, in rural and peri-urban areas, and across socio-economic groups and season (wet/ dry). It also defines and compares the level of water service received by different socio-economic groups using quantity, water quality monitoring, distance and crowding as the criteria.The findings suggest that targeting subsidies to increase private connections amongst the low-income urban population would lead to financial savings, in addition to enabling a significant decrease in economic expenditure. An additional issue uncovered by the research is the fact that a large proportion of population is utilising water sources whose water quality is not being monitored. This is clearly a public health risk that must be addressed along with the issue of water service affordability.

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