The Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney 

Research focus: Transitioning to safely-managed water services in self-supply contexts: Risks and opportunities for vulnerable populations in urban Indonesia and climate-affected Vanuatu

Project theme: Safely managed water and safely managed sanitation

Locations: Indonesia and Vanuatu

Partners: Universitas Indonesia, University of the South Pacific, UNICEF Indonesia and Vanuatu

Key Research Questions: 

How should transitions to safely-managed water services for all respond to widespread on-premises self-supply in Asia-Pacific?

i) What are the drivers and barriers affecting poor households’ use of self-supply sources, taking account of socio-economic, environmental, financial, institutional, behavioural and gender-related factors?

ii) What are the service levels (water quality, availability) provided by self-supply, the determining factors (e.g. climate, sanitation) and the health, welfare and gender implications?

iii) How should policy and practice respond to widespread use of self-supply water sources?

Research Description:

This research evaluates risks and opportunities associated with on-premises, self-supply water sources and how they might support or undermine transitions towards safely-managed services for poor households across Asia-Pacific. The work focuses on areas lacking piped water, including densely-populated low-income urban areas in Indonesia and small climate-affected islands in Vanuatu.

Indonesia and Vanuatu have both made significant progress in access to basic/improved water sources, hence it is timely to define pathways to safely‐managed services that will benefit all. Densely populated settlements in Indonesia (using shallow groundwater) and small climate‐affected islands in Vanuatu (using rainwater and shallow groundwater) present challenges faced widely across Asia‐Pacific.

More than 800 million people in Asia-Pacific depend on self-supply sources that are owned, managed and invested in by individual households. However, they are unregulated, unmonitored and little is known about the extent to which they provide safely-managed water services to poor households.

This research will support policymakers and practitioners engage with self-supply and associated risks and opportunities towards transitions to safely-managed services for all. The work seeks to understand self-supply water sources in terms of:

(i) prevalence, trends and typologies;

(ii) conditions that influence their adoption among poor households

(iii) their quality, reliability and cost, the factors that impact these parameters (especially sanitation and climate) and implications for health and gender; and

(iv) appropriate policy responses and practices to minimise risks, maximise benefits and inform sector financing. Gender and inclusion will be central themes for all lines of enquiry

Understanding and addressing self-supply in urban Indonesia is critical if efforts by government and development partners are to achieve safe and equitable drinking water for all. More than half of urban Indonesian households rely on water from their own well or borehole, with dependence particularly high among the poorest households. This research collaboration will shed light on the water quality and reliability issues that poor households face – including the potential adverse impact of poor sanitation and climate change – and chart a pathway forward for governments at multiple levels to engage with this issue. The research outcomes will also contribute to regional and global discussions around practical guidance for incremental improvements in service levels to reach the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Mitsu Odagiri, UNICEF Indonesia

 

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Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney

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