The idea of a Water Poverty Index (WPI) with a numerical value was formulated by scientists in an effort to express the complex relationship between sustainable water resource management and poverty at all units of human organization, all the way from community to nation. The numerical values generated for the WPI are then used to create a Water Poverty Map, which presents a clear visual picture of the water situation in the given area.
Initially, ‘Water Poverty’ was measured as a combination of resource availability and people’s ability to access the resource. Sullivan et. al. (2002) formulated the WPI to consider all the aspects involved with water management. Consequently, the WPI deﬁnes water poverty according to ﬁve components – Resource, Access, Capacity, Use and Environment.
The study area for this research project is the Indrawati River Basin in the Central Region of Nepal. The WPI is calculated for the basin and subsequently a Water Poverty Map is drawn on a High-Medium-Low category scale. The estimated average WPI for the entire basin is 52.5 points (medium water poor) out of 100. Out of a total of 20, component scores of 13.2 for Resource, 11.0 for Access, 6.7 for Capacity, 9.8 for Use and 11.8 for Environment were calculated. In the upper parts of the basin, the Resource component is high whereas Capacity is low. The reverse is true in the lower parts of the basin where Resource is ‘medium low’ but Capacity ranges from ‘medium low’ to ‘medium’.
Field investigations were carried out to verify the calculated WPI with the situation on the ground. Through the course of the ﬁeld investigations, local residents across the study area identiﬁed the drying up of water sources, poor capacity, poor accessibility, deforestation and chemical fertilizers as major factors causing water poverty in the Indrawati Basin.