Multi-criteria decision making methods for rural water supply: a case study from Bangladesh

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Multiple criteria decision making (MCDM) is a process of evaluating alternatives against relevant decision making criteria. Several methods are available to facilitate the evaluation steps. This paper deals with a rural water supply problem in the coastal areas of Bangladesh. Three different MCDM methods – weighted summation, analytical hierarchy process, and novel approach to imprecise assessment and decision environments – were used to evaluate the suitable water supply alternative. The ranking of alternatives obtained from these MCDM techniques produced similar results. Among five water supply alternatives evaluated, rainwater harvesting systems and deep tube wells scored first and second, respectively, for all three evaluation methods. In addition, sensitivity analyses were carried out for the MCDM techniques and these results did not show drastic variations either. This finding implies that while selection of MCDM technique is important, when evaluating similar problems more emphasis should be given to defining the problem comprehensively and thus selecting the relevant criteria and priorities to factor into the decision problem.

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