Water Poverty: Definition & Metrics


Objective

To deepen the normative conceptual frameworks and definitions of poverty and water poverty, as well as the metrics for their quantification and analysis

Ongoing activities

This research line counts, until the date, with the following successful activities: i) participation in the report on equity in access to water and sanitation in the pan-European region; ii) development of multidimensional metrics to measure water and energy poverty; and iii) analysis of temporal trends for the quantitative monitoring of small segments of the population.

i. Participation in the report on equity in access to water and sanitation in the pan-European region

In 2016, two current WAPONET members (Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya and Universitat Jaume I), together with the municipality of Castelló de la Plana, applied the Protocol on Water and Health of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). In particular, the “Equitable Access Score-card” tool was applied to assess the equity in access to water and sanitation in the above mentioned municipality. This analytical tool, jointly developed by UNECE and the Regional Office of the World Health Organization for Europe (WHO-Europe), aims to establish a benchmark of equity in access, to identify priorities and to discuss concrete measures to address the equity gaps.

Following this application, WAPONET members were invited to participate in the 5th Group of Experts on equitable access to water and sanitation (Paris, 26-27 June 2018). Together with other experts from the pan-European region, WAPONET members provided conceptual and technical contributions, as well as key messages derived from the experience of applying the “Equitable Access Score-card” for the evaluation and improvement of equitable access to water and sanitation.

Throughout 2019, WAPONET members have participated in the draft of the next UNECE / WHO-Europe publication on “ Findings and lessons learned from the work on equitable access to water and sanitation under the Protocol on Water and Health in the pan-European region“. The report will include the main results associated with the case study of the municipality of Castelló de la Plana, in terms of governance frameworks, geographical disparities, vulnerable and marginalized groups, and affordability in the access.

In addition to this participation, a scientific article has been published analyzing the usefulness, and limitations, of the “Equitable Access Score-card” for the evaluation of the access of vulnerable and marginalized groups.

ii. Development of multidimensional metrics to measure water and energy poverty

In recent years, WAPONET members have developed and applied aggregate indices for the measurement of water poverty, such as the Water Poverty Index (WPI) and its variants (“WaSH Poverty Index”, “Pressure – State – Response WPI”), as well as related concepts, such as the progressive realization of the Human Right to Potable Water and Sanitation.

The development and use of these indices allows the identification of deficiencies associated with the availability of resources or the service levels in its multiple dimensions, such as, in the case of water, the WPI. This index tackles i) the availability of the resource; ii) the access to the resource; iii) the capacity to manage the resource; iv) the uses of the resource; and v) the quality of the environment.

The work on aggregate indexes includes two main aspects: the multidimensional normative framework, and the mathematical modeling and quantification of magnitudes, assessments, preferences and / or priorities.

WAPONET members have continued its work in the line of development of multidimensional metrics to measure household poverty. In particular, a scientific article has been published in which the Alkire-Foster method for measuring multidimensional poverty was taken as a reference, and was applied to assess the deficiencies and the level of poverty associated with water, sanitation and hygiene services. This methodology allows to reflect both the prevalence of multidimensional deficiencies and their intensity, that is, how many deficiencies people suffer at the same time. It can also be used to get a general idea of the number of people living in poverty in relation to water and sanitation, and allows comparisons to be made between national and local levels, comparing ethnic groups, rural or urban areas, as well as other relevant characteristics of households and communities.

iii. Analysis of temporal trends for the quantitative monitoring of small segments of the population

In 2017, WAPONET members initiated a line of work on the application of compositional data (CoDa) theory for the analysis of temporal trends in indicators of access to basic services, especially those linked to the international cooperation framework (the Sustainable Development Goals).

In 2019, WAPONET members have analyzed the temporal trends in access to energy, and published a scientific article studying the evolution of access to electricity and developing methodologies for the treatment of time series with poor quality data, using models of regression with interactions.

Currently, a new method is being developed to incorporate the uncertainty of the data in the analysis of compositional trends in the water sector.