Analyzing utility data to gauge measures of inequality (2017)
PARTNERS: National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) of Uganda
PROGRAMME OF WORK: The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
PROJECT MICROSITE: http://water-utility.unglobalpulse.net/uganda/
The international community has made significant strides towards lifting people out of hunger and poverty. However, inequality still persists and large disparities remain in access to food, land, social protection, health and education services. On average, taking into account the population size, income inequality has increased by 11 per cent in developing countries between 1990 and 2010.
Official measures of poverty and inequality are generally produced with a multi-year time lag and have varying levels of coverage across countries.
Pulse Lab Kampala worked with the National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) of Uganda on a project to use utility data – from water consumption records – to measure socio-economic indicators in an urban area. The aim of the project was to inform on the value of the data to produce insights relevant to SDG 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries.
Household expenditure is a recognized proxy indicator of income used in living standards surveys. A proxy of household expenditure is water consumption purchased from a supplier.
The project analysed a total of 60,000 records of water consumption (billing data) from the NWSC to assess data quality and define the scope of the research. Only data collected by NWSC domestic and public standpipe meters was analysed (excluding institution or government and commercial standpipe meters). The unit of measurement selected was water consumption in cubic meters per m3 (1 m3 equals 1,000 litres).
Results of the analysis showed that an individual living in one of the most affluent areas in Kampala consumes 70 times more water than an individual in one of the most impoverished slums of the capital. They also revealed that people in affluent areas have over 100 more options to access clean water from the NWSC network, than on the outskirts of the city.