What is MUS?

Rural and peri-urban people need water for drinking, cooking, washing, sanitation, watering animals, growing food and generating income. Multiple-use water services (MUS) take people’s water needs as the starting point. By looking at all water needs and available water resources holistically, it is possible to make more cost-effective and sustainable investments that generate a broader range of health and livelihood benefits than is possible with single-use systems.

Why MUS?

The reality is that many people use domestic water services for a variety of productive purposes, including fisheries, livestock, home gardens and small-scale enterprises, and irrigation services as well as domestic needs such as drinking, washing, bathing and sanitation. If these uses are not planned for, the result is often damage to systems and conflicts between users.

How to do MUS?

Moving from basic supplies to MUS requires planning for higher levels of service in terms of the quantities of water supplied and distance from point of use. Intermediate-level MUS provides the highest benefit-cost ratio. In most of sub-Saharan Africa, upgrading to this level of service would mean doubling or tripling current volumes supplied, of which only 3–5 lpcd would need to be of high enough quality for drinking and cooking.

RWSN collaborates with the MUS Group because we recognise that rural people need water for more than just drinking and cooking. In 2014, we hosted an e-discussion that looked at MUS from different perspectives, and the synthesis is available below:

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