Access to Water: Advancement of Multidimensional, Multiscalar, and Participatory Methods of Measurement in the Global South
Prince, Breeanna Carroll
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This project deploys a modified Water Poverty Index (WPI) in villages reconstructed after the 2004 tsunami in southeastern India. While previous measurements of access to water have advanced understandings of waterscape complexities, this modified WPI improves past efforts and deconstructs some of the previous misunderstandings and notions regarding access to water. The traditional WPI is multidimensional and seeks to measure water access in a holistic fashion; the WPI presented here employs this approach, but is adapted to include new place-based indicators (e.g., Secondary Sources). Furthermore, unlike previous iterations of the WPI, our modified index incorporates water quality testing, three weight schemes, and operates at several scales. Ultimately, the construction and arrangement of our modified WPI enables statistical analyses, geospatial analyses, and water poverty mapping -- which are absent in most prior studies-- while still remaining easy to populate and descriptively analyze among non-academicians. Statistical tests of original household level data from a total of 24 villages in Nagapattinam District, Tamil Nadu, and Karaikal District, Puducherry, indicate significant differences between the two districts in indicator scores as well as total WPI score. Additionally, the urban and rural areas within each district were found to be significantly different in level of water poverty, and trends were similar across the three weight schemes. Multiple linear regressions show correlation of independent socioeconomic variables (i.e., Income, Education, and Assets-Networks) with the dependent indicator of Capacity, but not with the other indicators or total WPI score. Global Moran's I tests indicate positive spatial autocorrelation, demonstrating that indicator and WPI scores tend to cluster in space. Overall, the results match what was anticipated, yet serve to challenge commonly held assumptions on urban-rural hierarchies and the role of socioeconomic variables in determining water poverty. The construction, deployment, and analytical potential of this modified WPI can be used by scholars to improve existing conceptualizations and measurements of access to water, while the results can be used by local governments and nonprofits to improve resource allocation and inform spatially-targeted interventions.
- Masters Theses