Understanding the benefits of providing piped water on premises is particularly important as the costs are typically at least two times greater than other sources, such as communal pumps. Knowing what aspects of piped water services are most important to households, as well as their willingness and ability to pay for improved service, is critical for appropriate sizing and design of infrastructure, creating appropriate tariff schedules and facilitating private connections. This project explores preferences of water services and the costs and benefits of transitioning from unimproved water sources such as ponds and rivers to piped household water connections. By studying a planned implementation of water supply service improvements in rural communities of western Uganda, we aim to capture how the transition affects quantity and quality of water consumed, changes in household time allocation, cost of water and common indicators of health such as diarrheal morbidity.
We are also focusing on maternal stress and child development outcomes, exploring the idea that children in low- and middle-income countries who do not suffer water-related infectious diseases may nevertheless experience major, lifelong health and productivity impairments as a result of poor quality water services during early childhood. Little is known about how the physical burden and large time costs of poor water supply service affect early child development via the pathway of maternal stress. Women typically have the responsibility for obtaining and managing household water. Particularly in rural areas, many haul containers of water weighing 40-50 lbs. over long distances several times per day. This essential but physically taxing and time-consuming task can lead to stress and exhaustion and, for those with young children, can affect both the quantity and quality of child-rearing and mother-child interactions they provide. We will test whether the time costs and physical burden of water fetching increases maternal stress and impacts mother-child interactions, leading to child stress and subsequent effects on cognitive and behavioral development of children.