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Geographical heterogeneity and inequality of access to improved drinking water supply and sanitation in Nepal
Authors: He WJ, Lai YS, Karmacharya BM, Dai BF, Hao YT, and Xu DR
Source: International Journal for Equity in Health, 17(1):40; DOI: 10.1186/s12939-018-0754-8
Topic(s): Inequality
Water supply
Water treatment
Country: Asia
Published: APR 2018
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Per United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals, Nepal is aspiring to achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water and provide access to adequate and equitable sanitation for all by 2030. For these goals to be accomplished, it is important to understand the country's geographical heterogeneity and inequality of access to its drinking-water supply and sanitation (WSS) so that resource allocation and disease control can be optimized. We aimed 1) to estimate spatial heterogeneity of access to improved WSS among the overall Nepalese population at a high resolution; 2) to explore inequality within and between relevant Nepalese administrative levels; and 3) to identify the specific administrative areas in greatest need of policy attention. METHODS: We extracted cluster-sample data on the use of the water supply and sanitation that included 10,826 surveyed households from the 2011 Nepal Demographic and Health Survey, then used a Gaussian kernel density estimation with adaptive bandwidths to estimate the distribution of access to improved WSS conditions over a grid at 1?×?1 km. The Gini coefficient was calculated for the measurement of inequality in the distribution of improved WSS; the Theil L measure and Theil T index were applied to account for the decomposition of inequality. RESULTS: 57% of Nepalese had access to improved sanitation (range: 18.1% in Mahottari to 100% in Kathmandu) and 92% to drinking-water (range: 41.7% in Doti to 100% in Bara). The most unequal districts in Gini coefficient among improved sanitation were Saptari, Sindhuli, Banke, Bajura and Achham (range: 0.276 to 0.316); and Sankhuwasabha, Arghakhanchi, Gulmi, Bhojpur, Kathmandu (range: 0.110 to 0.137) among improved drinking-water. Both the Theil L and Theil T showed that within-province inequality was substantially greater than between-province inequality; while within-district inequality was less than between-district inequality. The inequality of several districts was higher than what is calculated by regression of the Gini coefficient and our estimates. CONCLUSIONS: This study showed considerable geographical heterogeneity and inequality not evidenced in previous national statistics. Our findings may be useful in prioritizing resources to reduce inequality and expand the coverage of improved water supply and sanitation in Nepal. KEYWORDS: Drinking water; Heterogeneity; Inequality; Nepal; Sanitation