Major Department

Global Health Studies


College of Liberal Arts & Sciences


BS (Bachelor of Science)

Session and Year of Graduation

Spring 2021

Honors Major Advisor

Waltraud Maierhofer

Thesis Mentor

Margaret Carrel


Globally, billions of people face water insecurity, negatively impacting not only health but other facets of their lives. Prior research indicates that water security is not evenly distributed between nor within populations, and inequities are predicated upon many factors, including gender and wealth. One aspect in the complex landscape of water insecurity is accessibility, the focus of this research. We aim to explore water accessibility in South Africa, a nation with a complicated relationship with water, by examining the association of current water access with various sociodemographic characteristics. Further, we look at the potential effects of future climate change on existing water inaccessibility.

Using a nationwide, representative survey, we mapped water inaccessibility hotspots across the country. We used a logistic regression model to study the association between water inaccessibility and household characteristics. Using predictions for precipitation levels under various climate models, we mapped and plotted the relationship between locations of current water inaccessibility and decreases in precipitation in the coming decades.

We found rural location and larger household size to be associated with increased water inaccessibility. Increasing wealth index was associated with decreased water inaccessibility. While hotspots of water inaccessibility were detected, we did not find relationship between these locations of current water inaccessibility and projected precipitation declines.

This research is significant in its potential to influence policy decisions about where to target water accessibility interventions in the present. Although the data did not show future declines in precipitation to be associated with current water inaccessibility, there are likely other factors that are associated with these changes, highlighting the need for more research to influence targeted interventions in the coming decades as the climate crisis continues.


Global health, geography, water citizenship, water rights, Sustainable Development Goals

Total Pages

36 pages


Copyright © 2021 Lindsay Cobb