Published on: 06/02/2015
The correlation between access to drinking water, health, nutrition and other development indicators is well known. At sector level, this often translates into the requirement to allocate additional funding to new infrastructure (in the rural sector, mainly to water points), that would naturally lead to widespread use by households, attracted by convenience and quality of service.
A recent household study from IRC in the Sahel Region, shows that even in villages where access rates exceed 100%, a large proportion of households either compliment their domestic water consumption at informal water points, or rely on them for all their needs. Overall, only 56% of the households surveyed use formal, or improved, water points for their domestic use.
Understanding factors leading to these consumption patterns reveal interesting findings:
On the basis of these findings, it is crucial for the sector to ‘nudge’ people towards using improved services after ensuring these offer good quality of service and safe water. Below are a few examples of how this may be achieved:
Focus on reducing waiting time at water points by:
Ensure adequate water quality by:
Although some of these findings confirm intuitions (e.g. improved convenience obviously leads to greater use), others contradict some of the sector’s widespread beliefs, such as that water costs too much and better water quality automatically leads to increased use.
Overall the findings highlight the importance for the sector to take steps to more systematically understand the demands and consumption patterns of users, in order to adjust standards and adapt ‘the offer’ to something that will really be valued and used.
The full blog in French is available on the website of Aguaconsult.
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