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Pro-Poor Perspective in Urban Water Supply

India has recently successfully begun public-private partnerships (PPPs) to provide around the clock water to a few urban areas. Having been deemed successful, Intellicap warns against being too hasty in rolling out similar initiatives in all areas.

"… Only if existing distribution networks are in reasonably good shape, and can be improved with minor investments (will PPPs be successful in delivering 24x7 water). If they are in a bad shape, refurbishing alone would make tariffs unaffordable to end consumers. In areas where water supply has been poor for considerable time, consumers have structured and adapted their lifestyles to the conditions. Often they are simply happy to get limited water supply at a fixed or regular time, and be charged lower tariffs. Urban local bodies need to understand the needs of the citizens and communicate the benefits of 24x7 water supply before investing in PPPs.”

Implications from Institute for the Future:

Intellicaps acknowledgment that all communities may in fact not be interested in 24x7 water supply if it means increased costs is the type of pro-poor perspective that will become increasingly important and expected. As marginalized communities continue to assert their voices and disrupt the general top-down and "expert knows best" behaviors these juxtaposing realities will become more common. Finding a city with intermittent water next to another city with 24x7 water will no longer be seen as a problem, but an acceptance of reality.

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Sources:

Intellicap Dec. 2010 pg. 3:
link to come

Signal on the PPPs:
http://rfsearchlight.clearsignals.org/node/330