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Senegal

3 ways countries can improve water supplies in small towns

Fadel Ndaw's picture
A public faucet that serves 1,000 families in
el Alto, Bolivia.
Photo credit: Stephan Bachenheimer / World Bank

Small towns* typically have not been well served by national or regional water utilities. Decentralization has become increasingly widely adopted, but even if local governments at the small town level have the power to operate a water utility, they often lack the capital and skills to do so. In response, some local governments and public institutions concentrate improvements on upgrading public utilities’ operations or strengthening community based management. In other cases, they choose to bring in the private sector knowledge of how to get clean water and sanitation services to more people more efficiently, affordably or sustainably. There is no one solution to addressing often very complex water and sanitation challenges.

There are many ways in which the public sector can leverage its own resources through partnering with the private sector. For the domestic private sector to fully realize its potential at scale in the small town sub-sector, we found they need capable and enabled public institutions to structure the market and regulate private operators.

Lessons learned from case study countries (Colombia, Bangladesh, Philippines, Uganda, Cambodia, Niger and Senegal) in a new global study published by the Water Global Practice’s Water and Sanitation Program suggest the following three key ways to support public institutions in order to build a conducive business climate for market players in small towns Water Supply and Sanitation (WSS) service delivery:

3 Innovative Ways to Manage Rural Water Supply

Meleesa Naughton's picture
With 70% of the world's extreme poor living in rural areas, and improved water access still lacking for close to 768 million people around the world, investing in safe and sustainable drinking water for rural populations is important to our goal of eradicating extreme poverty within our generation.

When compared to urban water supply, rural areas present a different set of challenges:

Often, the cost per capita of constructing water systems is higher in rural than in urban areas, due to a smaller population which is scattered over a large area. This, in turn, leads to high operating costs, to be recovered by fewer users.

Most importantly, there may not always be an obvious institution to take the responsibility of managing and operating the system after construction. This institutional vacuum leads to poor collection of water fees, and ultimately to poor operation and maintenance of the rural water systems.

A true PPP is all about the last P - Partnership

Ella Lazarte's picture

Private sector participation provides a promising solution to sustainable management and financing of water services, but we must bear in mind that a true PPP is all about the last P, partnership. At the Training Day preceding the PPP conference here in Dakar, Jane Jamieson said that PPP is not a date, it’s a marriage – you have to wake up next to it for the next 15-20 years (or 5 years or less for those management or lease/affermage contracts in countries such as Benin, Uganda, and Mozambique). So how do we make sure that it is indeed a true partnership?