The Water Poverty Index (WPI), introduced by Sullivan, is an inter-disciplinary tool that integrates the key issues relating to water resources, combining physical, social, economic and environmental information associated with people's ability to get access to water and to use water for productive purposes. It is most relevant at the community or sub-basin scales. This paper is concerned not with the development or underlying methodology of the index, but with how it can best be applied in practice to generate useful data, and then how these data may be used to generate benefits, especially for poor people who suffer from inadequate access to water. WPI values would need to be generated over wide areas, and this would require substantial institutional development. To do this, the use of existing census procedures and the needs for simplified data collection are considered, and the idea of widespread data collection through schools is examined. A number of technical issues relating to implementation of the WPI are discussed, particularly how the different spatial scales inter-relate and how the assessment of the physical resource and the collection of social and economic data may be made compatible. Finally, we discuss how the WPI value can be used in practice, and some of the issues and problems that this presents.

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