Impacts of domestic water supply on gender and income: results from a participatory study in a drought-prone region in Gujarat, India

Sijbesma C., Verhagen J., Nanavaty R., James A. J.

WATER POLICY, vol.11, no.1, pp.95-105, 2009 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 11 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2009
  • Doi Number: 10.2166/wp.2009.011
  • Journal Name: WATER POLICY
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.95-105
  • Istanbul University Affiliated: No


The growing demand for municipal water due to population increase and urbanization impels water managers to reconsider the existing traditional supply-sided management approach. Strengthening of water demand management (WDM) policies by improving water use efficiency has been adopted as a key target in arid regions, in particular. Indeed increasing the added value per m3 of water used is gaining importance since it is the most environmental-friendly strategy with regard to water resource management in comparison with expanding water infrastructure assets. Monitoring the water use efficiency index is the commonly applied method for assessing the performance of municipal water management that depends on physical (real) losses and non-physical (apparent) losses constituting non-revenue water (NRW).


In this paper, the results of the study conducted in three medium-size urban settlements, namely Ordu, Çarşamba and Ceyhan, are presented. Field surveys and evaluation of the data relating to municipal customer service have been carried out. In the light of the findings covering a four-year period between 2004-2007, the origin and reasons for NRW, and the means and tools for reducing it in order to improve water use efficiency are discussed. 

In this paper the value of an improved domestic water supply was investigated for economic development and gender relations in rural households in a drought-prone area. A comparative study executed with participatory rural appraisal (PRA) methods with groups of women from 11 micro-enterprises in ten villages and five control villages showed that, when an improved domestic water supply does not function, the entrepreneurs groups have a statistically higher loss of the economic use of water and time than the control groups. The extra income that women gain when the supply works and is used economically helps poor families to bridge the dry season. It could further be quantitatively proven that male-female gender relations were significantly better in the entrepreneurs group. This was not so for mother-daughter relationships, which gave new insights into the need to address gender equality issues with the women themselves and with SEWA, the supporting agency. These findings support the view that rural poverty and the status of women would receive a significant boost if policy makers focused on providing employment opportunities for women along with improved water supplies.