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Access to water and human development: Lessons from peri-urban and rural field studies (Morocco & South Africa)

Congress: 2008
Author(s): Dr Sylvie Morardet
Dr Christelle Pezon & Dr Sylvie Morardet Engref Laboratoire GEA 648 rue JF Breton BP4494 34093 Montpellier cedex 4 Tél : +33 467 04 71 30 Fax : +33 467 04 71 01 Email :

Keyword(s): access to water, human development, multiple uses of water, capability
AbstractThis paper presents the objective, methodology and results of 2 field studies conducted in the peri-urban area of the city of Tetouan (Morocco) and in the rural area of Sekororo, Limpopo Province (South Africa) dealing with the impact of an improved access to water on human development, defined as the ability of people to live the life they value. The first field study occurred in a context of extension of water and wastewater networks to peri-urban areas. The second field study takes place in a rural context of multiple uses of water (domestic, agriculture). The first step of the approach is to identify and rank the different impacts of an improved access to water on human development: health, food security, income generating activities, self-esteem, good social relationships, and freedom of choice and action. The second issue is to define the role that an improved access to water may play in the development process at individual, household and village or peri-urban area levels. Finally this paper aims at giving insights on how to frame improved water services according to water uses, people expectations and development opportunities, and how to design financing mechanisms to realize the full potential of development. For instance, a household cannot usually afford the full cost of an improved water service (in-house tap water) just after accessing it, in particular when its previous access was free. Similarly, a farmer newly supplied with irrigation water cannot pay for a full cost service, especially when he/she uses the irrigation facilities mainly for improving food security at household level and therefore does not generate cash. Typically, a connection to the local drinking water network liberates women and children from water duties. It improves their health but also gives them time that women may convert into income-generating activities and children into education. Those capabilities (be in good health, improve her income, be educated) may or may not be achieved, depending on social and personal factors that restrain or enlarge the choice people have and/or their ability to chose. The standard approaches of water supply projects have often considered as obvious the impacts of improved water supply on people livelihoods and under-estimated the time needed for this process to occur. Our approach focuses on this transition by taking into account the multiple dimensions of human development and not only the impact on cash income. In Morocco, impact on children schooling and women activity is limited as in urban areas children already go to school (except the eldest daughter in a large family) and women capability to work is socially hindered to in-door activities. In the Sekororo case study there is the opportunity to integrate the multiple uses of water at household and community levels and to build on the possible synergies between the domestic and productive sectors to improve the level of development.
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