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Water 2017, 9(6), 375;

Water versus Wireless Coverage in Rural Mali: Links and Paradoxes

Departamento de Geodinámica, Facultad de Ciencias Geológicas, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, C/José Antonio Novais 12, 28040 Madrid, Spain
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Richard Skeffington
Received: 20 March 2017 / Revised: 24 April 2017 / Accepted: 19 May 2017 / Published: 26 May 2017
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Water and wireless coverage were evaluated in a rural commune of southern Mali. All improved water sources in the area were checked for operability, accessibility, and water quality, while wireless coverage was tested by means of smartphones, phone calls, and instant messaging applications. Theoretical water coverage exceeded 82% of the total village surface area, thus beating the national and sub-Saharan African averages, but dropped to just 39% when considering only serviceable and contamination-free sources. In contrast, wireless coverage exceeded 90%. These outcomes highlight a triple paradox: (1) water from theoretically safe (i.e., improved) water sources is often unsafe to drink; (2) wireless access is better than water access even though water is essential for human survival and telecommunications are not; and (3) excellent Internet coverage does not help a large number of people, who lack the skills, devices, or need to access it. While telecommunications seem to be making inroads towards universal access faster than the water sector, a survey of water committees uncovered a hidden nexus between both resources, revealing that increased wireless access is actually contributing to underpin water coverage in a variety of ways. View Full-Text
Keywords: water access; wireless access; improved water sources; human rights; geographic information systems; Mali water access; wireless access; improved water sources; human rights; geographic information systems; Mali

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Martínez-Santos, P.; Cerván, J.A.; Cano, B.; Díaz-Alcaide, S. Water versus Wireless Coverage in Rural Mali: Links and Paradoxes. Water 2017, 9, 375.

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