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Published on: 17/02/2004

Water, Households and Rural Livelihoods (WHiRL)

The WHiRL project is supporting innovative approaches to promote integrated water resources management for rural water supply in two very different contexts.

First, in India, a major problem is competition between different users for scarce groundwater. Use of water for irrigation often compromises the amount and/ or quality of groundwater available for domestic supply in villages. Watershed development projects, as have been widely replicated in India, offer a potential entry point to improve groundwater management and protect water supply needs. However, to date such projects have largely focused on promoting irrigation, and have neglected drinking water issues.

Second, in South Africa, the project is supporting the implementation of the innovative concepts that were enacted in groundbreaking legislation to manage water resources. These include the Basic Human Needs Reserve to protect water resources for domestic supply. Additionally this research is addressing how these improved policies will provide secure access to water for small-scale productive activities - a largely invisible 'sector' - that are important to the livelihoods of the rural poor.

The WHiRL team produces papers, guidelines, training and advocacy materials to improve integration of rural water supply issues within programmes incorporating IWRM principles.

Multiple-use water supply systems

Water supplies designed for multiple uses, rather than just for either productive or domestic uses, improve more dimensions of well-being especially for women and the poor. The project 'Models for Implementing Multiple-use Water Supply Systems' is studying existing multiple-use systems and piloting new schemes in 10 countries. It is hypothesised that income gained from multiple uses will improve the ability and willingness of users to contribute to capital and operation and maintenance costs, considerably enhancing sustainability and potential for replication over traditional and narrow sector-based approaches.

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