203072 Water carrying in low-income countries: Women and children at work

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 8:30 AM

Susan B. Sorenson, PhD , School of Social Policy and Practice, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Paola Abril Campos , School of Social Policy & Practice, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Objective. To provide current estimates of water carrying in low-income countries.

Methods. Data are from the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS3), an in-person representative sample survey with high response rates, that was conducted in 2005-2008 in 52 countries. A series of questions was asked about water carrying. Analyses are based on the 34 countries whose data are available as of January 2009 - 12 in Central and Eastern Europe, 4 in East Asia, 2 in Eastern and Southern Africa, 3 in the Middle East and North Africa, 1 in South Asia, 5 in Latin America, and 7 in West and Central Africa.

Results. Households in sub-Saharan Africa were markedly less likely to have drinking water on the premises (21.7% vs. 77.1% elsewhere) and substantially farther from a source of water (29.1 minutes vs. 18.7 minutes for a roundtrip elsewhere). Mongolia, Yemen, Malawi and Somalia were outliers in their regions. In Malawi, only 6.0% of households had on-premises water (vs. an average of 23.7% elsewhere in sub-Sahara) and in Somalia, the mean time to-from the water source was over an hour (70.2 minutes vs. 23.7 minutes elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa). A great majority of the water carriers in sub-Saharan Africa were women, women with children, or children alone (86.6% vs. 57.8% elsewhere).

Conclusions and implications. Women are weighed down literally and figuratively by water carrying in developing countries. Development that decreases the distance between residences and water sources could free women and children to further contribute to society.

Learning Objectives:
By the end of the session, participants will be able to: Describe current patterns of water carrying in major regions around the globe. Identify at least one way that water carrying responsibilities limit women's more complete participation in society.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I generated the idea for the abstract, identified datasets from multiple countries, gathered the information, and wrote the abstract.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.