Together with energy poverty, water poverty affects a growing number of households with the supply of a basic good, such as water, threatened. In the context of developed countries, water poverty appears not so much as a problem of access as of affordability or inability to pay bills resulting of potential supply cuts. In Spain, water poverty appeared strongly in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis and its devastating effects on the well-being of many families, combined with a high increase in water prices.
The main aim of the project is to define what is meant by water poverty. Also, the researchers will analyse and diagnose the impacts of water poverty from the population's point of view, such as coping with water payments; quantifying household water poverty thresholds in order to feature other dimensions and analysing the intersection of vulnerability factors in households; or analysing adaptation strategies by households, institutions, companies and civil society groups, among others.
They start from the assumption that water poverty encompasses several dimensions, not only the economic side. A multiple causality is involved, in which economic, demographic, social or gender factors interact and generate responses from those affected, as well as from institutions, water service companies and NGOs.
Ultimately, the study focuses on the analysis of adaptation strategies by households, institutions, companies and civil society groups. María Hernández explained that these days they are analysing water poverty locally, in the cities of Alicante, Murcia and the metropolitan area of Barcelona. According to her, the ultimate goal is to provide real data, so that politicians know how to act accordingly in their management.
With this study, it is expected to increase understanding of this phenomenon in the context of a Mediterranean country that has been greatly affected by a serious socio-economic crisis and use the knowledge acquired to reduce the impact of this phenomenon on the well-being of the affected households.
The project is financed by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation, within a state programme for the generation of knowledge and scientific and technological strengthening of an R&D+i system oriented to the challenges of society announced in 2019. The universities of Murcia and the Autonomous University of Barcelona are also participating.
The newly initiated project builds on several foundations. The collaboration between researchers from the Land and Water Management research group and members of the Department of Geography at the Autonomous University of Barcelona working in a project funded by Aguas de Alicante (AMAEM) in 2016, which studied the decline in water consumption in the city of Alicante and the Barcelona Metropolitan Area as a result of both natural factors, such as droughts, and social factors, such as the economic crisis which began in 2008.
Later on, the participation of the principal researcher, María Hernández, in a network of excellence financed by the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities (MICINN) for the period 2018-2020 on water poverty, a network in which several Spanish universities participated: the Polytechnic University of Catalonia, the Open University of Catalonia (UOC), the University of Seville, the University of Oviedo, the University of Granada and the Jaume I University of Castellón. Within this network, the UAB and the UA have coordinated the group working on water scarcity in Spain".
Members of the working group on water poverty in Spain, coordinated by the UAB and the UA, with the participation of the UPC, UOC, US, UO, UGR and UJI. A network of Excellence funded by the MICINN (Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities)
Universidad de Alicante Carretera de San Vicente del Raspeig s/n 03690 San Vicente del Raspeig Alicante (Spain)