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TitleClimbing the water ladder: multiple-use water services for poverty reduction
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2009
Authorsvan Koppen, B, Smits, S, Moriarty, PB, F. de Vries, P, Mikhail, M, Boelee, E
Secondary TitleTechnical paper series/ IRC
Pagination215 p. : 44 fig., 23 tab.
Date Published2009-08-01
Place PublishedThe Hague
Publication LanguageEnglish
ISSN Number9789066870697
Keywordsaccess to water, multiple-use of water, policies, poverty, sdipol, water supply

This book shows how livelihoods act as the main driver for water services and how access to water is determined by sustainable water resources, appropriate technologies and equitable ways of managing communal systems. Climbing the water ladder requires a small fraction of total water resources, yet has the potential to help people climb out of poverty. Local government can be the pivot to make this happen. But, it needs support to implement its mandate to meet multiple-use demand and to become more accountable to people in communities.

The book identifies and analyses two multiple-use water services (MUS) models: homestead-scale and community-scale MUS. Homestead-scale MUS promotes household use of water for domestic and productive purposes to improve health, alleviate domestic burdens, and improve food security and income.

Community-scale MUS considers all uses, users, sites of use and water resources and infrastructure holistically. This integrated perspective opens new technological potential, including smart combinations of water sources; integration of existing infrastructure into new designs; and economies of scale in sharing bulk infrastructure for multiple uses. Various productive water sub-sectors operate at community level, where they are all concerned about the same water resources for the same people. With a MUS approach, the sectoral boundaries dividing single water uses can fade away, although sectoral expertise is still needed to turn water use into livelihood benefits.

A ‘multiple-use water ladder’ was developed to reflect linkages between a given level of access to water and the uses and livelihoods that can be derived. The ladder set 20 lpcd at and around homesteads as sufficient for basic domestic use, 20-50 for basic MUS, 50-100 for intermediate MUS and more than 100 for high-level MUS. At least 3 liters per capita per day (lpcd) should be safe for drinking. Even below basic domestic service levels, poor people prioritise water for small-scale productive activities over personal hygiene, while significant productive uses are undertaken at intermediate and high level MUS. The benefit-cost ratio of climbing the water ladder to intermediate level is favourable, and investment and operational costs can usually be paid from the income of productive purposes within three years.


Bibliography: p. 199-213. - CD-ROM contains the book and the web-site of the MUS Group as it was in 2009

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