The impact of piped water supply on household welfare

Raquel Tsukada & Degol Hailu


In the absence of piped water from a utility company, households rely on alternative supply from small-scale private providers. We quantify losses of wellbeing associated with using small-scale private providers instead of piped water from the utility company. We measure welfare in three dimensions: health, wealth (income), and time available for education, work, or leisure. An empirical application to Burkina Faso reveals that households' greatest welfare losses are in terms of time availability. The opportunity cost of collecting water is estimated to be 23 hours per week, which is comparable to half of a full weekly working period of an employed person. This loss is often borne by women. In terms of health and affordability of water, paradoxically, households using alternative sources of water are slightly better off.

JEL Classification: L95, L33, I18

Keywords: piped water, small-scale private provision, welfare loss, synthetic index

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