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Efficacy of Identity in Access: A study of piped water supply in India

Institutions & Governance India

Photo by Luis Tosta: Unsplash

Policy Context

India’s water woes are aggravated by a double whammy, with the responsibility of fetching water falling disproportionately on women (Koolwal and Walle, 2013; Ilahi and Grimard, 2000; Kevane and Wydick, 2001), and discrimination in access against groups such as the Scheduled Castes. The latter manifests itself through notions of purity and pollution, with separation of water sources, collection times, utensils, etc. (Dutta, Sinha, and Parashar, 2018; Shah, 2006; Tiwary and Phansalkar, 2007; Joshi and Fawcett, 2020).

The Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM), a nationwide scheme launched in India in 2019, aims to provide each rural household with a tap water connection by the end of 2024, management of which falls under the purview of village councils (Gram Panchayats). As of today, the JJM dashboard reports that nearly 75% of households in rural India have piped water within premises. The 78th round of the National Sample Survey (2021)2, however, shows that only about 29% rural households’ access to principal source of drinking water is within the dwelling at the time of the survey. More recent news reports blame lack of pipe infrastructure, water contamination, and scarcity of water supply, signaling management inefficiencies.

To explore the link between identity of leaders (local government officials) and water access, researchers make use of variations in state rules governing the formation of village councils. The team will use CEGA funds to make site visits to village hamlets and to file a Request for Information on state-level connectedness to water sources.


Study Design


Results and Policy Lessons


  • Saloni Taneja (USC)

2024 — 2025

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