Shanta, thanks for conducting an important debate and interesting insights.
I have the following comment:
I am not convinced that all Poor have the 'opportunity' or 'capacity' to follow the shorter route. These are the two dimensions of poverty that one has to pay attention to - in order to push up 40% of the people that are below the poverty line. It is important to understand who are the poor who can resort to private schools for their kids. Yes, the Poor have been paying high price for water from tankers. On this basis, can we conclude that market channels are open to the private sector to meet all water supply needs? Due to the very characteristics of the water sector, even cost recovery from the Users other than the Poor has been difficult. The Poor pay high prices for 'drinking water' alone as they may be able to afford small quantities. Most water projects designed by the Bank have suffered with this optimism. The Poor will keep meeting their needs by employing their household labor - mostly girls fetching water and not going to schools. Yes public accountability plays a role here. Water supply, in most cases will be under public ownership due to the needs of economies of scale although some interventions of the private sector are warranted to promote efficiencies. The point is, should we not treat water supply different from education and health service delivery so as to develop clarity on what incentives would work for effective water service delivery? Water supply link with natural resource aspect and huge infrastructure investment needs against tthe 'urgent social need' adds complexity to the debate.