Introduction of On-Premises Piped Water Access to Rural Households in Southern Zambia: Implications for Poverty Alleviation, Female Entrepreneurship, and Human Health

Principal Investigator

James Winter
Civil & Environmental Engineering Department, Stanford School of Engineering


Stanford Graduate School of Business
Research Locations Zambia
Award Date March 2017
Award Type PhD I-Award


For the past decade, the dominant paradigm of rural water provision in sub-Saharan Africa has centered around shared community water sources, usually through boreholes with handpumps. However, evidence from the environmental engineering literature has failed to show significant economic or health benefits for households receiving their water from these off-premises sources (i.e. sources not located in a user’s yard or home). With the passage of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, there is an increased focus on providing higher levels of water service, specifically piped water with yard or house connections. However, there is minimal literature examining the costs and benefits of this intervention. Recent trends indicate slow expansion of piped water on premises, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where only 5% of rural households have on-premises piped water access, the lowest coverage of any world region. In order to contribute to policy debates regarding the costs and benefits of household piped water supply in Africa, I propose to conduct a quasi-experimental study in rural, southern Zambia. Specifically, I will investigate the impact of on-premises piped water provision on income-generating activities using water as an input, the time and money costs of water services, household income, female entrepreneurship, and children’s health and development. If funded, research expenditures will be concentrated in data collection instruments (e.g. volumetric water flow meters) and hiring Zambian field workers to conduct interviews within the community.