The Impact of Improved Access to Safe Water on Childhood Health, Schooling and Time Allocation in Rural Zambia
This paper examines the short term impact of improved access to supremely safe water at newly built boreholes on the health, schooling and time allocation of children in rural Zambia. We employ a difference-in-difference estimation using a dataset collected under a quasi-experimental setting. We observe positive and significant effects of improved access to safe water on the reduction of incidence of diarrhea for pre-school children but not for school age children. On the other hand, we do not find any positive effect on school attendance and even suggest that there is a negative effect on girls living surrounding new boreholes. To understand the mechanism behind this pattern, we examine any changes in the use of time by children with easier access to safe water. We find for girls a significant increase in time spent on water-related household chores including fetching water. Moreover, we observe a significant decrease in the income-generating activities of girls. These findings, together with the suggestive evidence of increased demand for supremely safe water available at boreholes with easier access, imply that the burden of water-related household chores appears to shift from mothers to daughters.