Households Face Seasonal Water Shortages and Long Travel Time for Water Access
Eight out of ten households must travel outside their plot or yard to collect water, which is time-consuming and stressful to a majority of respondents. While most households along the Narmada River basin have an improved  main water source, their water access is still behind the state and national levels. Close to two out ten households do not have access to water within a 30 minute walk year around. Access is particularly scarce during summer months when only 5.5 percent of these households have access to water.
On average, households that access water off-premises spend 11.7 hours per week on water collection. Since adults of working age, mostly women, are responsible for water, this burden has an effect on their productivity, income, and stress levels. It is estimated that an average adult woman traveling for water loses 891 Indian rupee (INR)/month ($12.26) and a man loses INR 1,149/month ($15.81) in potential wages, which is almost 15 percent of monthly minimal wage earnings for women and men, respectively.
Despite time-consuming trips to collect water and seasonal variations in access, household satisfaction with the water source is widespread and almost all report sufficient water for cooking and drinking. Not all households that express dissatisfaction with their water facilities take the next step toward making investments in improvements, often because they lack household capital. Hence only a few households (9 percent) plan to improve their water access to reduce time spent on collection, and women face limits in making such decisions.
While women may often be in charge of holding money, they are not usually able to make decisions on how to spend it. Most women (89 percent) are involved in a mix or all household WASH decisions, but when financial resources are concerned, they are often not the ultimate decision-makers. A woman’s voice is heard in the process, but the head of household, most often male, makes the final decisions.