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The Water Poverty Index:an International Comparison


Author Info

  • Peter Lawrence

    (Keele University, Department of Economics)

  • Jeremy Meigh

    (Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Wallingford.)

  • Caroline Sullivan

    (Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Wallingford.)


This paper reports on the construction of an International Water Poverty Index, part of the first phase of a research project into building a locally based version of the index. The purpose of the Water Poverty Index is to express an interdisciplinary measure which links household welfare with water availability and indicates the degree to which water scarcity impacts on human populations. Such an index makes it possible to rank countries and communities within countries taking into account both physical and socio-economic factors associated with water scarcity. This enables national and international organisations concerned with water provision and management to monitor both the resources available and the socioeconomic factors which impact on access and use of those resources. This paper presents details of the methodology used and the results obtained for 140 countries covering measures of resources, access, capacity, use and environment.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Centre for Economic Research, Keele University in its series Keele Economics Research Papers with number KERP 2002/19.

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Length: 24 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2002
Date of revision: Mar 2003
Publication status: Published in Natural Resources Forum : a United Nations Journal, Vol. 27(3), 2003, pages 189-199. [ doi:10.1111/1477-8947.00054 ]
Handle: RePEc:kee:kerpuk:2002/19

Note: Our thanks to very helpful inputs from William Cosgrove, Richard Connor and many others at various meetings and workshops too numerous to list here. Discussions with Rivkka Kfir and her colleagues at the Water Research Commission, Pretoria, and Barbara Schreiner at DWAF Pretoria specifically led to indicators on water quality, governance and distribution being found and added to the index. Many others also made important contributions to the thinking behind this work, in particular the team members of the research project ’The development and testing of theWater Poverty Index’. This paper is an output of that research project funded by the Department for International Development (DFID), UK Knowledge and Research contract number C24. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of DFID.
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Postal: Department of Economics, University of Keele, Keele, Staffordshire, ST5 5BG - United Kingdom
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Fax: +44 (0)1782 717577
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Postal: Centre for Economic Research, Research Institute for Public Policy and Management, Keele University, Staffordshire ST5 5BG - United Kingdom

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Keywords: Indicators; water; environment; water poverty; income poverty;

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  1. Streeten, Paul, 1994. "Human Development: Means and Ends," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 232-37, May.
  2. Srinivasan, T N, 1994. "Human Development: A New Paradigm or Reinvention of the Wheel?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 238-43, May.
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Cited by:
  1. Itay Fischhendler & David Katz, 2013. "The use of “security” jargon in sustainable development discourse: evidence from UN Commission on Sustainable Development," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 13(3), pages 321-342, September.
  2. Sujata Manandhar & Vishnu Pandey & Futaba Kazama, 2012. "Application of Water Poverty Index (WPI) in Nepalese Context: A Case Study of Kali Gandaki River Basin (KGRB)," Water Resources Management, Springer, vol. 26(1), pages 89-107, January.
  3. Al-Hmoud, Rashid & Edwards, Jeffrey A., 2004. "Private sector participation in the water and sanitation sector: alternative options and measurement issues," MPRA Paper 36437, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Dionissi Aliprantis, 2012. "Community-based well maintenance in rural Haiti," Working Paper 1201, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  5. Arnaud Buchs, 2008. "Standards Applied to Water Use : An Attempt to Build up Dynamic Indicators," Post-Print halshs-00319452, HAL.
  6. Ryan Plummer & Rob Loë & Derek Armitage, 2012. "A Systematic Review of Water Vulnerability Assessment Tools," Water Resources Management, Springer, vol. 26(15), pages 4327-4346, December.
  7. Sharma, Bharat R. & Riaz, M. V. & Pant, Dhruba & Adhikary, D. L. & Bhatt, B. P. & Rahman, H., 2010. "Water poverty in the northeastern hill region (India): potential alleviation through multiple-use water systems: cross-learnings from Nepal Hills," IWMI Research Reports H042825, International Water Management Institute.
  8. Hatem Jemmali & Caroline Sullivan, 2014. "Multidimensional Analysis of Water Poverty in MENA Region: An Empirical Comparison with Physical Indicators," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 115(1), pages 253-277, January.
  9. Julie Wilk & Anna Jonsson, 2013. "From Water Poverty to Water Prosperity—A More Participatory Approach to Studying Local Water Resources Management," Water Resources Management, Springer, vol. 27(3), pages 695-713, February.
  10. Danny Cho & Tomson Ogwang & Christopher Opio, 2010. "Simplifying the Water Poverty Index," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 97(2), pages 257-267, June.


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