Great Turnout for Inaugural Sustainable Development Lecture Series EventPosted on July 11, 2011 by Marla
Thank you to UW professor Dr. Joe Cook and all the audience members for making the first Sustainable Development Lecture Series a big success. Dr. Cook continues to impress with his communication skills. He conveys complex content seamlessly and effortlessly to any audience. Every time. He’s welcome back to the Sustainable Development Lecture Series any time he wants.
The study is an effort by Dr. Cook and his UW team to measure some of the non-health benefits of water projects. Very little research has been conducted on questions such as: How much time is actually saved by a particular water project? How much more water do families use when access is much more convenient? Are there any measurable patterns with regard to the allocation of the time saved after a water project? The research has been taking place in Oromia, Ethiopia, where Water 1st is completing a series of water projects. Household surveys were done in the summer of 2009 and 2010. Research will continue this summer. The June 28th presentation was a report on the preliminary results of their study.
The one result that is clear to them at this point is that households have reduced the amount of time spent gathering water by an average of one hour per day. That is a great result for the community of Bishikiltu. With 800 households being served, that amounts to a gain of at least 292,000 hours of time a year. That is incredibly useful information for Water 1st. We have an independent study conducted to academic standards confirming that our projects are producing quantifiable benefits – 1 hour of time savings per day per primary water gatherer. Quantifiable benefits are very useful when making the case for investment in these projects, particularly with large government and foundation funding sources. We know that one project generated more than a quarter of a million hours of time savings over the course of a single year. Dr. Cook pointed out that other research has suggested that an intervention that reduces water collection time by an average of 15 minutes in a community can increase girls’ school attendance by 8%. If Water 1st projects are saving four times that amount of time, our projects are likely to be making a big impact on the gap between girls and boys in educational opportunity in Bishikiltu, too. On top of that, there is the substantial health benefit of an integrated water supply, sanitation, and health education project.
At this point, the data do not indicate any clear pattern of time reallocation (there is no specific activity that has received more attention due to the time savings achieved in water collection). Dr. Cook also mentioned that they have not begun analyzing the data to determine if they can detect a change in volume of water used. The one hour time savings result is significant in and of itself, but it would be even more impressive if they show that community members are actually gathering more water in less time. Other studies suggest that to be the case, but it would be great to have data collected in this study to corroborate that.
The audience enjoyed the presentation. We got a lot of feedback expressing interest in “the next lecture in the series.” So if you thought about joining us, but couldn’t make it, stay tuned. There will be more opportunities to hear lectures on critical issues in Sustainable Development in the future. Look for further results from the UW study to be one of those future lectures!
If you missed it, the entire lecture can be viewed on in 5 parts on YouTube.
- Sustainable Development Lecture Series: Joe Cook, Part 1
- Sustainable Development Lecture Series: Joe Cook, Part 2
- Sustainable Development Lecture Series: Joe Cook, Part 3
- Sustainable Development Lecture Series: Joe Cook, Part 4
- Sustainable Development Lecture Series: Joe Cook, Part 5