Gender Equity Benefits of Piped Domestic Water In Sub-Saharan Africa

21 Jan 2021 by The Water Diplomat
LUSAKA, Zambia

Women and girls in rural sub-Saharn Africa can benefit from up to 32 hours more time per month with availability of piped water supplies closer to home.

This extra time dramatically improves the lives of women and girls, while also improving economic opportunities, food security and well-being for entire households, according to new research.

A study, published in Social Science and Policy, followed four rural villages in southern Zambia, found that households with piped water spent 80 Percent less time fetching water and that water consumption for productive purposes increased.

In sub-Saharan Africa, fetching water is a task overwhelmingly carried out by women and girls, and is one factor often cited as limiting their educational and economic prospects. There is also evidence that women and girls are at risk of physical and sexual abuse when using communal water sources and toilet facilities.

The new research found that households with piped water were more than four times more likely to grow a garden. As well as garden sizes more than doubling over the course of the study, households also reported being able to sell produce as well as being happier, healthier and less worried.

Extrapolating their findings to the broader rural population in Zambia, researchers concluded that a piped water supply close to home could save the average household 32 hours per month.

“Addressing this problem provides the time and water for women and girls to invest in their household’s health and economic development, in whatever way they see fit,” said lead author James Winter.

Elsewhere, media in Zimbabwe recently reported concerns expressed by women of exposure to coronavirus as crowded communal bore holes. There have been allegations that some women there are being asked for sex in exchange for access to water.