There is no shortcut to institutional co-evolution. If we want imported technology to function, in advance of effective demand, the only way forward is to recognise the need for ongoing external inputs to rural water institutions over and above any enabling environment.
|Year of Publication
|All systems go! WASH Systems Symposium, The Hague, the Netherlands, 12-14 March 2019
|The Hague, The Netherlands
|co-evolution, effective demand, institutions, Utilitisation
The long-standing weaknesses of rural water supply are examined from the perspective of limited effective demand related to concepts of the co-evolution of social (cultural), economic and institutional capital. The analysis suggests that, by donor and government’s short-cutting of the demand responsive approach, we have failed to recognise that there is no shortcut to institutional co-evolution. If we want imported technology to function, in advance of effective demand, the only way forward is to recognise the need for ongoing external inputs to rural water institutions over and above any enabling environment.
It is suggested that the mechanism to achieve these necessary inputs is by promoting the ‘utilitisation’ of rural water. This means supporting existing supply agents to become customer and commercially-oriented organisations, professionalising community water providers and for urban utilities, at all scales, to begin absorbing rural areas into their service area. This as a means of institutionalising the long-term support that ‘piped on premises’ rural water supply requires. However imperfect, urban utilities have been co-evolving into something approaching a customer and commercially-oriented service provider. Not only are they closer in cultural terms to rural communities there is the added potential of eventually being able to cross-subsidise rural as well as low-income urban consumers from the urban revenue base. However, supporting services so far in advance of effective demand will require capital subsidies to continue.