Multidimensional poverty estimates show that 1.3 billion people in the world are multidimensionally poor, with 84.2 percent of them living in rural areas. Sustaining people’s livelihood in rural areas depends on water, an essential resource for sustainable development. Agricultural water access and its management are connected with poverty reduction, especially in developing countries. However, equity considerations must be included to ensure water security can benefit the poorest and enhance economic growth.

This study focuses on understanding the links between water access and poverty in the Tupiza river basin, located southeast of the Department of Potosí, in Bolivia, which is considered one of the 25 strategic basins in the country due to its socio-economic relevance and environmental vulnerability.

The poverty dimensions considered in this study are based on the MDPA framework proposed by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). This framework guided a survey design and further development of multidimensional poverty indicators. Researchers performed spatial analysis to identify communities with concentrations of the poorest households. Establishing the relationship between water access and the multidimensional poverty of households can support policy-making efforts and water planning and take the landscape of inequality in the Tupiza watershed into consideration.

The the analysis of the relationship between water access and multidimensional poverty showed that, both in the urban area (city of Tupiza) and in the rural and peri-urban communities of the basin, water access for domestic use affects the poverty levels of the households. In the rural and peri-urban areas, water access for agricultural and livestock breeding activities also affects the extent of multidimensional poverty of households.