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Submitted by Shanta on

Patricio, thanks for pointing me to your earlier blog post. There is a difference, however, between water and sanitation. The former is not an externality (if I don't drink clean water, the only person who suffers is myself), whereas the latter is--as I explained in my post. I think we often lump water and sanitation together, and assume government expenditure on both are justified. But the argument is really for sanitation. If we want poor people to get access to water, we should give them money, and have them pay the full cost of water. Unfortunately, the way we manage water now--by providing it for free or at reduced rates--leads to diversion, with poor people having to buy water from water vendors at 5-16 times the meter rate. Just as with health, where there are services with a rationale for public spending (immunization, etc.) and those without (curative care, mostly), there is a distinction in WASH. Regards, Shanta