Dynamics of water access and allocation among competing needs within the homestead: Quantifying Multiple Water Uses in the Rural Eastern Cape
South Africa is a water-stressed country, receiving an average rainfall of 450mm per annum, which is significantly less than the global average of 860mm per annum. The livelihood of the rural population depends heavily on the availability of water. While the dynamics of water access and use by urban households is well documented, little is known about the dynamics in rural households. This article describes how rural households obtain water; and in turn, quantifies how households allocate water among competing household uses; including cooking and cleaning, home garden irrigation, and supporting livestock. A case-study involving 30 households comprising 180 individuals used a mixed-methods approach and found that households allocate more water for productive use (60%) than they do for domestic purposes (40%). The findings suggest and describe certain rural nuances on how local peoples access and use water to support food security. This research emphasises the need for water services to be planned to support multiple water uses in rural households and further suggests that interventions to increase water storage and access to untreated water, especially in homesteads would yield significant results.
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