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TitleInternational symposium multiple-use services: from practice to policy
Publication TypeProgress Report
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsSmits, S
Secondary TitleConclusions report
Pagination15 p.
Date Published11-2008
Place PublishedDelft, The Netherlands

The concept of multiple-use services (MUS) has emerged over the last five to ten years as an alternative approach to providing water services. It stems from the recognition of multiple use of water as a local practice, a fact often not considered in water services provision which has tended to focus on providing water for single uses e.g. for domestic water or irrigation only. Yet, people often use existing single-use systems to meet their multiple water needs. The MUS approach proposes to move from the mere recognition of multiple-use to water services provision, which takes people's multiple water needs as a starting point and tries to meet those in an integrated manner (Van Koppen et al., 2006).

A growing number of organisations have been undertaking activities on multiple-use services, ranging from conceptual and empirical research to piloting multiple-use services delivery and policy advocacy. The Multiple Use Services (MUS) Group was established in 2003 (originally under a different name, the PRODWAT group) as a network of organisations which jointly undertake research and documentation, promote implementation and learning, and facilitate information sharing and evidence-based advocacy on multiple-use services (MUS Group, 2008). In view of the growing body of work on this topic, the MUS Group, together with the RiPPLE (Research-inspired Policy and Practice Learning in Ethiopia and the Nile Region) research consortium organised an international symposium on multiple-use services from 4 to 6 November 2008 in Addis Ababa. The aim of the symposium was twofold: 1) to take a critical look at findings from research and practice on different aspects of multiple-use services provision and 2) to discuss implications for taking the MUS approach forward, in implementation, research, capacity development and policy, leading to strong policy recommendations from the symposium.

This paper provides the main proceedings of the symposium, particularly focusing on the conclusions from the discussions held at the event. It complements the other outputs: the background paper and the set of papers that were presented at the event have been published on the MUS Group's website ( In addition, a policy brief will be developed, containing policy recommendations to be used for advocacy.


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