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Published on: 21/08/2012

The poor in small towns in Africa can and do benefit from commercialised water services, says SNV in a new practice brief. As long as water companies are socially responsible and they are backed up by pro-poor policies.

SNV say they have achieved positive results through their support of small town water companies in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia.

In northern Kenya, SNV’s helped the Isiolo Water and Sewerage Company reduce unaccounted-for water from 65% to 41%, while at the same increasing revenue more than four-fold to US$ 36,670 per month. Building on this experience, they are now partnering with Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP) to replicate their successful approach in Zambia’s Northern Province.

SNV supports socially responsive commercialisation of basic services using a three-pronged approach. The first step is to get to understand the context and your customers. For this SNV uses two tools: Systemic Action Research (SAR) and service surveys, respectively. Secondly, SNV helps small town water companies improve their management practices, especially for revenue collection as this is crucial for providing better services. Finally, SNV stimulates water companies to partner with the private sector to reach out to the poor. This makes business sense as affordable pricing for the poor leads to increased revenues.

SNV believes that this three-pronged has proved in practice that it is indeed possible to achieve a balance between economic (sustainability) and social (equity) objectives. SNV is an international not-for-profit development organisation that works in 36 developing countries and has its headquarters in The Hague, The Netherlands. In 2012 they have been contracted to provide capacity building support for new peri-urban water projects in Naivasha, Kenya and northern Mozambique (see links below).


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