This paper examines the short-term impact of better access to improved water available at newly built boreholes on children’s health, schooling, and time allocation in rural Zambia. We employed a difference-in-differences estimation using a dataset collected under a quasi-experimental setting. We observed significant effects of better access to improved water sources on the reduced incidence of diarrhea for pre-school children but not for school-age children. We found no significant effect on school attendance. To understand the mechanism behind this pattern, we examined any changes in time use by children who had better access to improved water sources. For girls, particularly those who lived near the boreholes, we found a significant decrease in time spent on schooling and homework and a significant increase in time spent on water-related household chores including fetching water. We did not find any significant changes for boys. Alongside a significant decrease in time spent on water-related chores by female adults, better access to improved water supply shifts the burden of water-related household chores from female adults to girls while the net burden of water collection alone for girls was unchanged.
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