The difference a day can make: The temporal dynamics of drinking water access and quality in urban slums



Price H, Adams E & Quilliam RS (2019) The difference a day can make: The temporal dynamics of drinking water access and quality in urban slums. Science of The Total Environment, 671, pp. 818-826.

In urban slums – home to approximately 1 billion people worldwide - access to clean drinking water is woefully inadequate despite the United Nations' declaration that access to safe water is a fundamental human right. Households in slums are frequently forced to rely on multiple drinking water sources to meet their needs. Numerous factors influence choice of water source, including water quality, availability, reliability, and affordability. These factors are not temporally static, but instead vary over multiple timescales (from sub-daily changes to annual changes and beyond) in response to changes in the water source itself and changes in the household's ability to use that source. For example, the cost of water can may change over time in response to water availability (e.g. rainy season versus dry season) and a slum household's ability to pay for water may change over time in response to changes in household income. However, existing national and global monitoring of safe water access, including Sustainable Development Goal 6, overlook these temporal dynamics of water access, quality and health risk in slums. This paper proposes a research agenda for exploring temporal changes in drinking water access and quality in urban slums and their potential influence on health risk. It argues that in the design of research studies, policy interventions, and drinking water monitoring aimed at improving access and health in urban slums, temporal dynamics should be considered over at least three interlinked time scales: short-term (from sub-daily to week-to-week), medium-term (from month-to-month to season-to-season) and long-term (from year-to-year). The paper concludes with recommendations for future research on temporal dynamics of drinking water and health in slums.

Water access; Temporal and spatial water quality; Informal settlements; Health risks; Temporal change; Sustainable development goals

Science of The Total Environment: Volume 671

FundersRoyal Geographical Society
Publication date30/06/2019
Publication date online23/03/2019
Date accepted by journal22/03/2019
PublisherElsevier BV

People (2)


Dr Heather Price

Dr Heather Price

Senior Lecturer, Biological and Environmental Sciences

Professor Richard Quilliam

Professor Richard Quilliam

Professor, Biological and Environmental Sciences