Introducing Bridge21 Scholar: Gabriel Yahya Haage
Developing a Child-centered Water Poverty Index
I am Gabriel Yahya Haage, a graduate student in the Natural Resource Sciences department at McGill. I am involved with the BESS (Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services and Sustainability) and the E4A (Economics for the Anthropocene) programs. My research at Bridge21 deals with the Water Poverty Index and the needs of children.
The Water Poverty Index is a way of identifying water issues by looking at different components of society that intersect with water needs and uses. The index focuses on five components, namely Resource, Access, Capacity, Use, and Environment.
Resource refers to the physical availability of water, including how variable it can be.
Access refers to a community’s access to the resource, including the distance to a water source.
Capacity refers to how efficiently the water can be used, which often considers education and the ability to pay for water.
Use refers to how the water is used, including domestic and agricultural use.
Environment refers to a measure of the ecological state of the surrounding habitat.
Each component has a series of potential subcomponents that can be included. For instance, Capacity usually includes education and income. Determining which subcomponents to use is often site dependent and must be developed with the communities that are being considered. Stakeholder participation is encouraged at each stage of the process.
While at Bridge21, I hope to work towards developing a Water Poverty Index that is Child-centered. Child-centered perspectives are important because children tend to be one of the most vulnerable groups of individuals and are disproportionately affected during a crisis. For instance, the Water Poverty Index may need to include water-borne diseases that disproportionately affect children or consider the greater impact of heat stress on these individuals. The concepts of Child-Friendly Schools and their flexible approaches to the needs of children will be used to guide the development of a Child-centered Water Poverty Index.
My project hopes to not only develop a general framework for a Child-centered Water Poverty Index, but to also then apply this to the communities of the Bayano Watershed in Panama. As mentioned above, the Water Poverty Index offers a general template, while the details must be site specific and developed by working with the stakeholders affected. As such, this project will seek to collaborate with communities in the Bayano region and other, similarly affected, communities. While my goal is not geared towards advocating specific policies, the process of research and the development of the framework may lead to an understanding that certain policies may be beneficial.
This project is extensive and complex, particularly when it comes to stakeholder participation, but I think it will be a necessary addition both to our understanding of water scarcity and the needs of children. Working at B21 will offer me the opportunity to target this complex issue.