Socio-Economic Inequalities in Access to Drinking Water among Inhabitants of Informal Settlements in South Africa

M.J. Oskam*, M. Pavlova, C. Hongoro, W. Groot

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


While evidence from several developing countries suggests the existence of socio-economic inequalities in the access to safe drinking water, a limited number of studies have been conducted on this topic in informal settlements. This study assessed socio-economic inequalities in the use of drinking water among inhabitants of informal settlements in South Africa. The study used data from "The baseline study for future impact evaluation for informal settlements targeted for upgrading in South Africa. " Households eligible for participation were living in informal settlements targeted for upgrading in all nine provinces of South Africa. Socio-economic inequalities were assessed by means of multinomial logistic regression analyses, concentration indices, and concentration curves. The results showed that the use of a piped tap on the property was disproportionately concentrated among households with higher socio-economic status (concentration index: +0.17), while households with lower socio-economic status were often limited to the use of other inferior (less safe or distant) sources of drinking water (concentration index for nearby public tap: -0.21; distant public tap: -0.17; no-tap water: -0.33). The use of inferior types of drinking water was significantly associated with the age, the marital status, the education status, and the employment status of the household head. Our results demonstrate that reducing these inequalities requires installing new tap water points in informal settlements to assure a more equitable distribution of water points among households. Besides, it is recommended to invest in educational interventions aimed at creating awareness about the potential health risks associated with using unsafe drinking water.</p>
Original languageEnglish
Article number10528
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021


  • socio-economic inequalities
  • access
  • drinking water
  • informal settlements
  • South Africa


Dive into the research topics of 'Socio-Economic Inequalities in Access to Drinking Water among Inhabitants of Informal Settlements in South Africa'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this