Multiple use water service (MUS) is an approach that seeks to plan, design, and manage water systems with the aim of meeting people’s water needs for multiple purposes. The approach was introduced to address the failures of previous approaches, such as the demand-responsive approach and the community management approach, to ensure that interventions respond better to community needs. This research aims to bring to the fore a comprehensive assessment of the effectiveness of multiple use water service as a service delivery approach in rural water supply systems.

Project aims

The main objectives of the research are:

  • To identify the factors that contribute to or constrain the level of service delivery in rural water supply systems;
  • To compare the benefits and challenges in terms of water supply arising from single use and planned MUS;
  • To evaluate the operation and maintenance systems and their implications on the level of service delivery in different water supply systems in rural areas.


  • Multiple use water service helps to reduce workload by decreasing the time needed to collect water (a task usually allocated to women). The saved time is used in productive activities such as brick moulding, livestock production and vegetable growing and marketing, among other productive uses of water.
  • Communities get additional income from vegetable sales, brick moulding, livestock production or any other productive uses of water which provides them with financial independence and increased financial decision-making.
  • MUS enables communities to grow nutritious vegetables in greater quantities all year round, thereby improving the nutritional status of women and their families.
  • MUS results in the development of skills allied with the system design, construction, maintenance and use of improved agriculture techniques.
  • Women are at the centre of MUS-related project activities. Therefore, wherever MUS systems are installed, the roles of women start to change, resulting in increased decision-making both inside and outside the home. This also results in women being involved in key leadership positions on the MUS user committees, thereby empowering them to link with other agencies.