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2016-02-19 | project

Short- and long-term effects of exogenously reducing water collection times on school attendance, hours studying and time use: Meru County, Kenya

This research project aims to increase the evidence base for socioeconomic impacts of bringing water points closer to homes and reducing water collection times. This reduction is an important form of "time poverty" alleviation. If the the hypothesis is correct, the research results will be timely to policy makers and the broader water supply sector as water quality and treatment of waterborne diseases will improve.

Although the time demands of resource collection work in rural areas have long been recognized, efforts to identify the socioeconomic impact of reducing these demands are relatively rare. Because of endogenous source choices and collection decisions, it is difficult to identify the impacts of reduced water collection times. We will perform a randomized controlled trial to exogenously reduce water collection times in our field site in rural Meru County, Kenya and measure its impact on school attendance, hours spent studying for school-aged children, and time use for the main primary water collector.

As part of the experiment we will compensate water vendors to deliver water to a randomly-chosen group of households during the worst two months of the dry season. These households will receive "coupons" to receive as much water as they told us they used in a summer 2013 survey, plus 20%. Because households may adjust differently knowing that the treatment is only short-lived, we propose to test "long" vs. "short"-term effects by giving a second, smaller, group of households a rainwater catchment system that should reduce collection times in all dry seasons in the immediate future. We will measure using a novel, custom-designed time use measurement app for smartphones that provides time use data without recall bias. We propose to observe households during August and September 2016, and to follow up with data collection during several weeks in the summer of 2017.