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Title (Primary) Affordability of water supply in Mongolia - empirical lessons for measuring affordability
Author Gawel, E.; Sigel, K.; Bretschneider, W.
Source Titel UFZ Discussion Papers
Year 2011
Department OEKON
Volume 9/2011
Page To 28
Language englisch
Keywords affordability; Mongolia; water supply; water access; potential affordability approach; residual income approach; non-pecuniary cost

Affordability of water services is a pressing water policy issue for both the developed and in
particular the developing world. Despite its well-known theoretical shortcomings affordability
analysis for water supply is up to now widely based on the ratio of a household’s water expenditure
and income (CAR). However in the housing sector alternative concepts of measuring affordability
have been developed among them the potential affordability approach (PAA) and the residual
income approach (RIA).
Against this background the article compares three prominent affordability measures (CAR, PAA,
RIA) on the basis of an empirical case study of a ‘ger’, i.e. low income area in the Mongolian city
of Darkhan using household data from a survey conducted in 2009. Thus we gain insight into both
the water-related affordability situation of people in Mongolia checking the World Bank’s thesis of
missing affordability problems in this country as well as the comparative functionality of different
affordability measures. Additionally, institutional as well as access-driven problems of water
supply are introduced into the analysis. It is shown that affordability problems quite occur for
considerable parts of the households but have to be distinguished depending on the economic
causation: We argue that none of the regarded measures gives a satisfyingly contoured notion of
affordability properly distinguished from the adjacent problems of poverty and access. A mere
CAR analysis does not provide sound recommendations for water policy at all. In particular,
problems of access entailing non-pecuniary costs of water provision have to be taken into account
and might explain both problems of underconsumption and given CAR-affordability at the same

Persistent UFZ Identifier
Gawel, E., Sigel, K., Bretschneider, W. (2011):
Affordability of water supply in Mongolia - empirical lessons for measuring affordability
UFZ Discussion Papers 9/2011
Helmholtz-Zentrum für Umweltforschung - UFZ, Leipzig, 28 pp.