New Paper in Sustainability

21 02 2017

A new paper by Shyam Ranganathan, Raj GC, and I was recently published in Sustainability. The paper presents a way to advance an interconnected set of SDGs and targets through a multiple-use water services (MUS) approach to rural water delivery.


Abstract: The 2030 agenda presents an integrated set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and targets that will shape development activities for the coming decade. The challenge now facing development organizations and governments is how to operationalize this interconnected set of goals and targets through effective projects and programs. This paper presents a micro-level modeling approach that can quantitatively assess the impacts associated with rural water interventions that are tailored to specific communities. The analysis focuses on how a multiple-use water services (MUS) approach to SDG 6 could reinforce a wide range of other SDGs and targets. The multilevel modeling framework provides a generalizable template that can be used in multiple sectors. In this paper, we apply the methodology to a dataset on rural water services from Mozambique to show that community-specific equivalents of macro-level variables used in the literature such as Cost of Illness (COI) avoided can provide a better indication of the impacts of a specific intervention. The proposed modeling framework presents a new frontier for designing projects in any sector that address the specific needs of communities, while also leveraging the knowledge gained from previous projects in any country. The approach also presents a way for agencies and organizations to design projects or programs that bridge sectors/disciplines (water, irrigation, health, energy, economic development, etc.) to advance an interconnected set of SDGs and targets.

Citation: Hall, R.P.; Ranganathan, S.; G. C., R.K. A General Micro-Level Modeling Approach to Analyzing Interconnected SDGs: Achieving SDG 6 and More through Multiple-Use Water Services (MUS). Sustainability 2017, 9(2), 314.

New Paper in Water Alternatives on MUS

2 10 2014

The Productive Use of Rural Piped Water in Senegal

Ralph P. Hall, Eric A. Vance, and Emily van Houweling

Abstract: Over the past decade there has been a growing interest in the potential benefits related to the productive use of rural piped water around the homestead. However, there is limited empirical research on the extent to which, and conditions under which, this activity occurs. Using data obtained from a comprehensive study of 47 rural piped water systems in Senegal, this paper reveals the extent of piped-water-based productive activity occurring and identifies important system-level variables associated with this activity. Three-quarters (74%) of the households surveyed depend on water for their livelihoods with around one-half (54%) relying on piped water. High levels of piped-water-based productive activity were found to be associated with shorter distances from a community to a city or paved road (i.e. markets), more capable water system operators and water committees, and communities that contributed to the construction of the piped water system. Further, access to electricity was associated with higher productive incomes from water-based productive activities, highlighting the role that non-water-related inputs have on the extent of productive activities undertaken. Finally, an analysis of the technical performance of piped water systems found no statistically significant association between high vs. low levels of productive activity and system performance; however, a positive relationship was found between system performance and the percentage of households engaged in productive activities.


New Paper on The Human Right to Water

15 12 2013

ScienceThe Human Right to Water: The Importance of Domestic and Productive Water Rights

Ralph P. Hall, Barbara Van Koppen, Emily Van Houweling

Science and Engineering Ethics


The United Nations (UN) Universal Declaration of Human Rights engenders important state commitments to respect, fulfill, and protect a broad range of socio-economic rights. In 2010, a milestone was reached when the UN General Assembly recognized the human right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation. However, water plays an important role in realizing other human rights such as the right to food and livelihoods, and in realizing the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. These broader water-related rights have been recognized but have not yet been operationalized. This paper unravels these broader water-related rights in a more holistic interpretation of existing international human rights law. By focusing on an emerging approach to water services provision—known as ‘domestic-plus’ services—the paper argues how this approach operationalizes a comprehensive range of socio-economic rights in rural and peri-urban areas. Domestic-plus services provide water for domestic and productive uses around homesteads, which challenges the widespread practice in the public sector of planning and designing water infrastructure for a single-use. Evidence is presented to show that people in rural communities are already using their water supplies planned for domestic uses to support a wide range of productive activities. Domestic-plus services recognize and plan for these multiple-uses, while respecting the priority for clean and safe drinking water. The paper concludes that domestic-plus services operationalize the obligation to progressively fulfill a comprehensive range of indivisible socio-economic rights in rural and peri-urban areas.

Download or Read Paper On-line

New Paper in Water Alternatives

13 09 2012

The first paper from our research on the productive use of rural domestic water in Senegal will be published in Water Alternatives (Volume 5, Issue 3). The abstract to the paper is included below.

ABSTRACT: Enhancing livelihoods and promoting gender equity are primary goals of rural development programmes in Africa. This article explores the role of productive water use in relation to these goals based on 1860 household surveys and 15 women’s focus groups conducted in four regions of Senegal with small-scale piped water systems. The piped systems can be considered ‘domestic plus’ systems because they were designed primarily for domestic use, but also accommodate small-scale productive uses including livestock-raising and community-gardening. This research focuses on the significance of productive water use in the livelihood diversification strategies of rural women. In Senegal, we find that access to water for productive purposes is a critical asset for expanding and diversifying rural livelihoods. The time savings associated with small piped systems and the increased water available allowed women to enhance existing activities and initiate new enterprises. Women’s livelihoods were found to depend on productive use activities, namely livestock-raising and gardening, and it is estimated that one half of women’s incomes is linked to productive water use. While these findings are largely positive, we find that water service and affordability constraints limit the potential benefits of productive water use for women and the poorest groups. Implications for targeting women and the poorest groups within the domestic plus approach are discussed.

Citation: Van Houweling, E.; Hall, R.P.; Sakho Diop, A.; Davis, J. and Seiss, M. (2012) The role of productive water use in women’s livelihoods: Evidence from rural Senegal. Water Alternatives 5(3): 658-677.

A Week in Bellagio

7 09 2012

I write this post sitting in a beautiful villa at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center in Italy. During this past week, I have taken part in a workshop on Multiple-Use Water Services (MUS) attended by some 19 practitioners and academics from around the world. The objectives of the meeting were to: develop a common understanding and framework for MUS; elaborate a common direction and goal for the next five years around MUS; elaborate strategies for the MUS Group and its core members to reach this success; elaborate how best MUS can be moved forward; and develop a broad road-map for the way forward and clear commitments for action among the members.

The workshop was facilitated by Dr. Jürgen Hagmann and Dr. Joe Ramaru – professional facilitators from the Institute for People, Innovation, and Change in Organisations (PICOTeam) in South Africa. I mention the PICOTeam because of the superb facilitation they provided. I learnt much from watching how they worked with the group and managed the workflow as the meeting progressed.

The workshop participants developed a comprehensive agenda that will be developed further in the coming months. What was encouraging was the emphasis given to the need for a robust evidence base from which further MUS activities and programs can be built.

In addition to the workshop, we had the opportunity to meet many of the Rockefeller Fellows in residence at the Bellagio Center. I had the privilege with speaking with Geoffrey West, Ellen Silbergeld, and David Freedman and learning about the research and writing projects they are pursing at the center.

Below are several photos from the workshop and grounds of the Bellagio Center, which is now my new favorite place to work in the world. The location has a unique way of relaxing and freeing the mind.

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Stockholm Presentation

30 08 2012

The presentation I gave during the seminar on “Scaling Pathways for Multiple-Use Services, for Food Security and Health” at the Stockholm World Water Week 2012 is posted below. Following this prezi, I have provided links to the presentations given by the other seminar participants.


Presentations by Seminar Participants

Background to MUS.
Barbara van Koppen, Coordinator MUS Group/IWMI, South Africa

MUS Practices and Scaling Pathways for Food Security in Ethiopia.
Deres Abdulkadir, RiPPLE, Ethiopia

What does MUS Look Like? Moving from Concept to Practice in 7 Countries.
Mary Renwick, Winrock International, USA

Guidelines for Providing and Implementing MUS.
Stef Smits, Secretary MUS Group/IRC, the Netherlands

If it is such a Good Idea, Why doesn’t Is Scale Up? Opportunities and Barriers for Scaling MUS.
Barbara van Koppen, coordinator MUS Group/IWMI, South Africa

Stockholm World Water Week 2012

28 08 2012

On August 30, 2012, I will be taking part in a seminar on “Scaling Pathways for Multiple-Use Services, for Food Security and Health,” at the 2012 Stockholm World Water Week. During my presentation, I will highlight some interesting results from our multi-country study on the productive use of rural domestic water in Senegal and Kenya. More specifically, I will discuss the relationship between the productive use of domestic water and the (technical/financial) sustainability of rural piped water systems.

Our first paper from this multi-country study on “The role of productive water use in women’s livelihoods: Evidence from rural Senegal,” will be published in the October edition of Water Alternatives. A series of other papers from this work are currently under review/development.