According to Stanford researchers, installing piped water near homes is the way to gender equality and well-being improvement in rural Zambia
Water increases opportunities for women and girls in rural areas all over the world. According to a new Stanford study bringing piped water closer to remote households in Zambia drastically improves the lives of women and girls, while also improving economic opportunities, food security, and well-being for entire families. The research was recently published in Social Science & Medicine.
“Switching from the village borehole to piped supply saved almost 200 hours of fetching time per year for a typical household,” said study senior author Jenna Davis, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford and director of Stanford’s Program on Water, Health and Development. “This is a substantial benefit, most of which accrued to women and girls.”
All over the globe, about 844 million people lack access to safe, clean water for drinking, cooking, cleaning, hygiene, and food production. Only 12% of the rural population in sub-Saharan Africa has water piped to their home. Usually, families tend to collect water from distant, shared sources. The time-consuming chore of carrying heavy containers is a woman’s responsibility which results in less time for childcare, housework, hygiene, outside employment, education, and leisure.
“Addressing this problem provides the time and water for women and girls to invest in their household’s health and economic development, in whatever way they see fit,” said lead author James Winter, who recently defended his PhD in civil and environmental engineering at Stanford.
Despite the fact that over the years millions of dollars have been invested in installing basic water resources, a vast 88% of the population cannot access drinking water from home. Previous studies have shown that collecting water can harm one’s mental and physical well-being.