Time Spent on Household Chores (Fetching Water) and the Alternatives Forgone for Women in Sub-Saharan Africa: Evidence from Kenya


Agesa, Richard U., and Jacqueline Agesa. 2019. “Time Spent on Household Chores (Fetching Water) and the Alternatives Forgone for Women in Sub-Saharan Africa: Evidence from Kenya.” The Journal of Developing Areas 53 (2): 29-42.

Authors: Richard U. Agesa, Jacqueline Agesa


Due to a lack of piped water, household members in sub-Saharan Africa, typically girls, fetch water from sources outside the home. We offer the first econometric study that considers a fetching water/schooling time tradeoff as a possible and partial explanation for the relatively high dropout rate for girls in school. Our empirical technique fist estimates a baseline probit where the dependent variable is one if the individual is enrolled in school and zero if the individual is not enrolled. The covariates are factors which may influence school attendance. However, such a specification may be vulnerable to omitted variable bias. To account for this possibility, we estimate the average treatment effect by augmenting the probit model with instruments which may induce 'treatment' of time spent fetching water i.e. whether the individual resides in a household connected to electricity. Our data is drawn from the 2004/2005 Kenya Integrated Household Budget Survey. Our findings shed new light. In particular, we find that the interaction between the female dummy variable and time spent fetching water is negative and statically significant suggesting that the incidence of not attending school, due to fetching water, is relatively higher for females. This finding is further reinforced by the coefficient on the female dummy variable which is negative and statistically significant, suggesting that being female in Kenya, and in much of SSA, reduces the probability of enrolling and spending time in school. Taken together, our findings are consistent with the notion, and provide evidence for the anecdotal view in the literature that the high dropout rate for girls in school may in part be explained by a fetching water/schooling time tradeoff. To reduce the time individuals spend fetching water from sources outside the home, we suggest that a policy prescription that offers a requisite infrastructure, typically provided for through public means, may reduce the cost for households of connecting piped water to their homes. Importantly, such a policy action would be effective in reducing the time spent fetching water not only for females but for males as well.

Keywords: fetching-water, schooling, gender, Kenya, africa

Topics: Development, Economies, Poverty, Education, Gender, Infrastructure, Water & Sanitation, Livelihoods Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Kenya

Year: 2019

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