Many sub-Saharan African countries still have a long way to go to completely realize universal access to safe water, Target 6.1 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
This paper analyzes data obtained from a past JICA project implemented for groundwater development in Zambia with the aim to reduce water-related diseases by improving access to safe and stable water sources. The project involved the construction of new borehole water supply facilities with hand pumps in 2012 and 2013.
Applying a coping cost approach, this study estimates the economic value of safe water from the newly constructed boreholes. One of the major findings suggests that even though the share of time value for water collection in the total expenditure was reduced from approximately 10% at the baseline survey to 3% at the end-line survey, the project did not actually reduce the burden of water collection on the population. Instead, the safe water provided by the new boreholes generated a higher water demand and thus increased the number of trips taken to obtain the water. Thus, the paper estimates the internal rate of return (IRR) of the project is not large.
The research findings also highlight the importance of health benefits gained from the project. The decreased incidence of diarrhea among working-age adults resulted in enhanced productivity. The project also reduced diarrhea among children, especially those of preschool age. Therefore, using the disability-adjusted life year (DALY) measures, the study further estimates additional health benefits that are not taken into consideration in the IRR calculation.
This study was a part of research project entitled “Empirical Research in Africa,” conducted by the JICA Ogata Sadako Research Institute for Peace and Development.
This study was published at Water Resources and Economics and is available at the following link.