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Home > Basin > Andes > Multiple-Use Water Services (PN28)

Full Project Title: Multiple-Use Water Services (MUS) (PN28)


As people take water from multiple sources and use it for multiple purposes: agriculture-based livelihoods, drinking, sanitation, cooking, personal hygiene, laundry and general cleaning as well as for many small-scale or domestic enterprises including livestock watering, horticulture, crop irrigation, tree growing, fisheries, pottery, brick-making, arts, butchery, car washing, ice-making and for ceremonial purposes.

Multiple-use water services (MUS) has emerged as an approach better suited to meeting people’s multiple water service needs in peri-urban and rural areas of low- and middle-income countries. Homestead-scale MUS frees up the labor and recycles water and nutrients; at community scale, multiple water uses from multiple water sources at multiple sites are considerably more cost-effective and sustainable than single-use water services.

The project aimed to pioneer the implementation of MUS in communities and document de facto multiple uses of ‘domestic’ systems designed for single use; scaling up of MUS models by contributing to a supportive institutional environment at intermediate, national and global levels.

Research Highlights

Research highlights

  • The action-research led to the identification, field-testing and analysis of homestead-scale and community-scale MUS models.
  • Forging learning alliances for scaling up and out of results with a wide range of stakeholders in water user groups, CBOs, NGOs, domestic sub-sector and productive sub-sector agencies, local government, private service providers, rural development agencies and financers, and knowledge centers.
Project Outcomes

Project outcomes

  • A ‘multiple-use water ladder’ reflecting linkages between a given level of access to water and the uses and livelihoods that can be derived.
  • Learning alliances generated institutional innovations via water service provider groups on their own and in new collaborations.
  • Contributing to a global environment that has become considerably more supportive of MUS, and catalyzing a shift in perception toward multiple water uses and sources.
  • In water stressed basins such as the Limpopo, inequities in water use are substantial. Re-allocation of some water from the few large-scale users to the poor can be considered legitimate.
  • Homestead-scale MUS is accessible to the poor, empowers women and is likely the best way to use water to contribute to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), generating most ‘MDG per drop’.
Publications and Outputs

To view all outputs from project PN28 visit our document repository.

Selected publications and outputs

Journal papers

  1. Penning de Vries, F.W.T. (2007). ‘Learning Alliances for the broad implementation of an integrated approach to multiple sources, multiple uses and multiple users of water.’ Special issue: Integrated assessment of water resources and global change: a northsouth analysis. In: Water Resources Management 21, 79-95.
  2. Van Koppen, B.; Moriarty, P. and Boelee, E. (2006). Multiple use water services to advance the Millennium Development Goals. Colombo, Sri Lanka, International Water Management Institute. (IWMI Research Report 98).
  3. Van Koppen, Barbara and Anne T. Kuriakose (2008) Gender and Multiple-Use Water Services Thematic Note 1 in: Gender in Agriculture Source Book. World Bank. Washington D.C.
  4. Van Koppen, B. (2009). Multiple-use Water Services: an untapped opportunity to meet the Millennium Development Goals. Vol. 32. March 2009.
  5. Van Koppen, B., S. Smits and M. Mikhail (2009) Homestead- and community-scale multiple-use water services: unlocking new investment opportunities to achieve the millennium development goals: In: Irrigation and Drainage 58 pp 73-86 (restricted webmail access).
  6. Van Koppen, B.; Smits, S.; Moriarty, P.; Penning de Vries, F.; Mikhail, M. and Boelee, E. (2009). Climbing the water ladder: Multiple-use water services for poverty reduction. Technical Paper Series 52. The Hague, The Netherlands, IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre and International Water Management Institute.

Reports and others

  1. MUS Posters 2004; 2006; 2009; flyers global 2004; 2006; Nepal and India. (No electronic versions)
  2. Butterworth, J., S. Smits, M. Mikhail and Isabel Dominguez (2009). Learning alliances to influence policy and practice: experiences promoting institutional change in the multiple use water services (MUS) project.
  3. IWMI, IRC and GWP (2007). Taking a multiple use approach to meeting the water needs of poor communities brings multiple benefits. Colombo, Sri Lanka, International Water Management Institute (Water policy briefing 18).
  4. Moriarty, P., Fonseca, C., Smits, S. and Schouten, T., 2005. Background paper for the symposium on learning alliances for scaling up innovative approaches in the water and sanitation sector. Delft, The Netherlands, IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre.
Final Report
Project Partners

Project partners


Project Lead

Project lead


For more information on Phase 1 outputs please contact Udana Ariyawansa.