Improved Access to Safe Water: Effects on Adult Health and Time Reallocation in Rural Zambia
This paper examines the short term impact of improved access to safe water on adult health and time allocation at newly constructed boreholes in rural Zambia. We employ a difference-in-differences estimation using a dataset collected under a quasi-experimental setting. We observe a significant effect of improved access to safe water on reduction of diarrheal incidence for working-age adults and a resulting decrease in the number of days during which they could not perform their regular activities due to diarrhea, although the economic benefits resulting from health impacts were very limited. With respect to time allocation, we find that improved access to safe water reduced time spent on water-related household chores, including fetching water for female adults who live with female children, suggesting that burden of water-related household chores shifted from female adults to young girls. We do not observe any significant increase in time spent on income- generating activities. Instead, the time-gain benefit for working-age adults can be found in leisure time, particularly among females who live near the new boreholes.