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From intermittent to continuous water supply in urban India: a multi-dimensional evaluation - Livestream

Isha Ray

Intermittent piped water supply is common throughout urban India, but continuous, fully pressurized supply (“24-7 water”) is the Government of India service norm. Employing a matched-cohort research design, we compare eight wards with intermittent water supply and eight wards that were upgraded to continuous supply in a demonstration project in Hubli-Dharwad, Karnataka.  We compare tap water quality, child health, water storage practices, and coping costs across socio-economic strata. We estimate water consumption and “waste” in the intermittent zones, and the potential for scale-up of continuous supply to the entire city. We find that the 24-7 project improved water quality, did not improve overall child health but did reduce serious waterborne illness in the lowest-income strata, reduced the costs of waiting, increased monthly water bills, and potentially increased water insecurity for the poorest households. We find very little household water waste in intermittent unmetered wards, though this is a significant (stated) motivation for the upgrade. Many households are using less water than is recommended for basic daily needs. Finally, our model forecasts show that planned system capacity going forward could be inadequate to scale up 24-7 to the entire city. If this is so, a 24-7 upgrade can only be sustainable and equitable with significant " as yet unacknowledged " investments.

Speaker: Isha Ray, UC Berkeley

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Wednesday, 01/27/21

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