Water poverty: Towards a meaningful indicator

Eran Feitelson, Jonathan Chenoweth*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

122 Scopus citations


Much effort has gone into the development of indicators of water problems. They largely focus on the question of whether there is sufficient water for food self-sufficiency. Yet, today's agenda is increasingly geared toward adequate water provision for domestic use, as food is increasingly supplied through market mechanisms, and toward environmental issues. As the domestic supply of water can be usually assured, at a cost, and as both environmental concerns and social requirements can be translated to monetary terms, even if imperfectly, a water poverty index is advanced to assess the structural water problems faced by different countries. Water poverty is defined as a situation where a nation or region cannot afford the cost of sustainable clean water to all people at all times. The implications of this definition are discussed, and the variables needed to operationalize the proposed index identified.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)263-281
Number of pages19
JournalWater Policy
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2002


  • Affordability
  • Poverty
  • Sustainability
  • Water indicators
  • Water scarcity


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