Rural communities throughout sub-Sahara Africa are hampered by unequal access to water resources, economic markets, and transportation. Further, development programs do not always provide uniform access to water supply, especially in water scarce regions. With a growing concern over the limited supply of ecosystem services, the need to understand how the complex realities of water use is affected by socio-cultural factors—including household tenure, size, income, and resource management practices—is urgent. This study uses qualitative (e.g., group discussions, village community mapping, key-informant interviews) data to inform quantitative models that test for spatial relationships among factors governing rural livelihoods among water sources across a village in Northern Tanzania. Models identified the social, environmental, and economic factors that affect a households’: 1) ability to meet the UN's minimum per capita threshold for water use; and 2) total domestic water use. These results reinforce the importance of family size, access to transportation, and water governance strategies affecting rural water use. The integration of traditional resource management with regional governance policies improved water use and protected water supplies. Investments in water infrastructure need to consider how additional supplies affect access to and management of resources across water scarce landscapes.