Women’s Water Access Is Associated With Measures of Empowerment and Social Support: A Cross-sectional Study in Sub-Saharan Africa

Hiliary Monteith, Davod Ahmadi, Kate Sinclair, Narges Ebadi, Hugo Melgar-Quinonez


Water access is an important global issue that impacts health and wellbeing and has been recognized by the United Nations as a significant area for improvement. Despite some global improvements from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) targets, regions with the most compromised water access are still
experiencing significant deficits. Among those regions, Sub-Saharan African (SSA) Countries are the most affected. Socio-ecological factors intersect to further contribute to this compromise in water resources, and community structures and social supports need to be considered. Women’s empowerment and social support
have been shown to have an impact on community health and wellbeing, but the association with water access is not well researched. This cross-sectional study considers these relationships and aims to identify water access for women living
within SSA and assess its relationship with measures of women’s empowerment and social support. Using data from the Gallup World Poll, our study highlights an association between these factors, suggesting a role for community and female
capacity-building to empower women and foster relationships within SSA communities to further work toward improvements in water resources.

Keywords: Water access, water security, empowerment, social support, SubSaharan Africa, capacity building

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The Journal of Rural and Community Development is supported by SSHRC.