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Small-scale water providers in Kenya : pioneers or predators?

There are two main schools of thought about the role of small-scale private water providers. Proponents view them as pioneers and gap- fillers, supplying water where utilities are not providing it adequately. Sceptics argue that they are predators who charge high prices and supply poor quality water. This study examines which argument holds true in the urban and peri-urban areas of Kenya. The study is based on household and provider surveys, as well as topical interviews with government officials and stakeholders. We find that smallscale providers increase water supply coverage and reduce time poverty. As predicted by the “poverty penalty” concept, however, low-income households pay high prices for water of questionable quality. For two-thirds of households, expenditure on water is above the affordability threshold. And 57 percent of households consume below the water poverty line. Water is also exposed to contamination by external toxic residuals, mainly during transportation and as a result of pipe leakages. Given their inability to store water, low-income households suffer disproportionally in times of scarcity and rationing. As regards policy intervention, piped water connections on premises remain the most affordable and safe system of water provision. In the meantime, supporting fixed-point water suppliers such as public taps and water kiosks represents a second-best solution. Strengthening capacity within regulatory institutions is required to ensure affordability and quality of the water provided. [authors abstract]

TitleSmall-scale water providers in Kenya : pioneers or predators?
Publication TypeMiscellaneous
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsHailu, D., Rendtorff - Smith, S., Tsukada, R.
Pagination40 p.; 8 tab.; 7 fig.
Date Published2011-08-01
PublisherUNDP (United Nations Development Programme)
Place PublishedNew York, NY, USA
Keywordskenya, peri-urban communities, private sector, water consumption, water supply and sanitation in peri-urban areas and small centres programme
Abstract

There are two main schools of thought about the role of small-scale private water providers. Proponents view them as pioneers and gap- fillers, supplying water where utilities are not providing it adequately. Sceptics argue that they are predators who charge high prices and supply poor quality water. This study examines which argument holds true in the urban and peri-urban areas of Kenya. The study is based on household and provider surveys, as well as topical interviews with government officials and stakeholders. We find that smallscale providers increase water supply coverage and reduce time poverty. As predicted by the “poverty penalty” concept, however, low-income households pay high prices for water of questionable quality. For two-thirds of households, expenditure on water is above the affordability threshold. And 57 percent of households consume below the water poverty line. Water is also exposed to contamination by external toxic residuals, mainly during transportation and as a result of pipe leakages. Given their inability to store water, low-income households suffer disproportionally in times of scarcity and rationing. As regards policy intervention, piped water connections on premises remain the most affordable and safe system of water provision. In the meantime, supporting fixed-point water suppliers such as public taps and water kiosks represents a second-best solution. Strengthening capacity within regulatory institutions is required to ensure affordability and quality of the water provided. [authors abstract]

NotesWith 38 references and 54 footnotes
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Disclaimer

The copyright of the documents on this site remains with the original publishers. The documents may therefore not be redistributed commercially without the permission of the original publishers.