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Assisting stakeholders in data-scarce settings: citizen science as a tool to assess intermittent water supply systems in developing countries

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Title: Assisting stakeholders in data-scarce settings: citizen science as a tool to assess intermittent water supply systems in developing countries
Authors: Sione, Laure
Item Type: Thesis or dissertation
Abstract: The lack of data on the operation and failures of urban water supply infrastructure in low- income countries prevents planners from fully understanding the water supply system, leading to an absence of evidence-based water management policies. It also prevents end- users from making informed decisions about their water use. The aim of the PhD was to assist stakeholders – at all levels – in making decisions regarding intermittent water systems, where there is a current absence of data. The research investigated using citizen science as a tool and methodology to generate data in Kathmandu, Nepal, as a case study where water intermittency is widespread. The tool took the form of a bespoke smartphone application, developed by engaging closely with water consumers, which allowed households to communicate their location and patterns of water supply intermittency in real-time. A remote method for collecting and communicating water quality information was also included. Because this research presents a novel approach to monitoring water supply in low-income settings, an important component of its contributions to knowledge lies in establishing the tool’s feasibility and reproducibility. This was done using a mixed-methods approach, including validation of the methodology and the collected data by geographic cluster analysis, and by gathering qualitative feedback from key stakeholders. To ensure that the method would be applicable in environments with different water intermittency profiles, demographics, and socio-economic conditions, an effort was made to engage with citizens and stakeholders across the city of Kathmandu. The research found that the method is applicable across different users and can provide useful data and information to water utilities under a range of intermittency scenarios, leading to both improved water supply management and customer relations. An important impact arising from the research is that the Kathmandu water utility subsequently adopted the approach as part of its business strategy.
Content Version: Open Access
Issue Date: Sep-2021
Date Awarded: Mar-2022
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10044/1/96876
DOI: https://doi.org/10.25560/96876
Copyright Statement: Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial Licence
Supervisor: Onof, Christian
Templeton, Michael
Sponsor/Funder: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Funder's Grant Number: EP/L0168261
Department: Civil and Environmental Engineering
Publisher: Imperial College London
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Qualification Name: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Appears in Collections:Civil and Environmental Engineering PhD theses



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