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Access to water and improved livelihoods: Regional annex for East Africa [Quality Assurance: Stef Smits]

Author(s): Rukunga, Gerald  |  Mutethia, David  |  Kioko, Titus  |  AMREF  |  Smits, Stef

Publisher: WEDC
Place of publication: Loughborough University, UK
Year: 2005

Series: WELL Fact Sheet
Collection(s): WELL

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Close to 40 million people in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania do not have access to safe water supply services. In these countries water coverage in both rural and peri-urban areas is still low.

Most of the efforts in improving the coverage of water supply, only focus on providing water for basic needs such as drinking, washing and cooking. Health objectives are the moving spirit and the focus of the water (and sanitation) interventions, and they are found at the top of every logical framework.

At global level, there is a realization that water services can also have other benefits essential for improving people's livelihoods, not just health.

  • Good health and growth
  • Food security and nutrition
  • Expenditure saving
  • Time saving
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Poverty reduction

The reverse of this is that if safe and adequate water is not provided people suffer negative impacts, among them are:

  • Poor school attendance
  • Food insecurity
  • Poor nutritional status among both children and HIV/Aids affected persons
  • Decreased productivity

In East Africa, this realization has for now not been translated into mainstreaming a livelihoods approach to water projects. The main reason for this is that there has been very little examination of the specific ways in which water sector interventions address poverty and livelihoods in general. This fact sheet provides some case examples on how water projects can support livelihoods.

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