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Multiple Use Water Systems

One Solution for an Entire Village

More than a billion people do not have access to clean domestic water, and many more lack access to affordable irrigation. In 2003, iDE realized the benefits of integrating access to water for domestic use and irrigation at the village level. These hybrid systems can be operated as profitable income-generating businesses by water user groups who repay the loan required to build them in approximately three to five years. Maintained with user fees, hybrid systems provide clean domestic water for the rural poor while expanding their access to the irrigation water they need to increase and stabilize their income from agriculture.

MUS installations reduce the labor required for water collection and improve sanitation and hygiene for participating households, and they help women play a larger role in the household decision-making process because of their increased income.

At the end of 2007, iDE Nepal had installed 82 systems, serving 2,124 households and benefitting about 12,000 small farmers.

MUS Facts

  • iDE's study found that the average distance to the nearest water sources was reduced from over one kilometer (.62 miles) to 58 meters (190 feet).
  • 76 percent of those impacted by MUS note that they were able to send their girls to school after MUS installation.
  • Farmers who are not directly benefiting from MUS systems already are learning about the important impact these systems have on high value crops. In many cases farmers will pay a fee to the water user group allowing them to access water from the systems for their own high value crop production.

Two Main Systems

The two main MUS systems in Nepal both tap spring sources and use gravity to pipe water to storage. One system uses a single tank to distribute water to hybrid taps where domestic water is gathered and a hose can be attached to fill up drip irrigation header tanks.

Read More about MUS

Multiple Use Water Service Implementation in Nepal and India: Experience and Lessons for Scale Up
by Monique Mikhail and Robert Yoder
Download now (PDF, 8 MB)

MUS Group website


Do you want to be at the forefront of the affordable technology revolution? Your contribution to this initiative will help us develop and market the next wave of affordable, low impact, income enhancing technologies, like low pressure crop sprinklers that can work with drip irrigation systems, and a low-cost water storage bag that can hold 10,000 liters (2,642 gallons) of monsoon rainwater for use during the dry season.