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Title: THE PLACE OF THE INFORMAL WATER MARKET IN THE URBAN LANDSCAPE: SMALL-SCALE WATER PROVIDERS IN KISUMU, KENYA

Author: G. Munala

Year: 2009

Publisher: European Water Resources Association (EWRA)

Description:

Small-scale water providers (SSWPs) are reluctantly accepted as a viable alternative for delivery service to the citizenry. As a result, SSWPs are often viewed as "temporary" measure just taking advantage of failed public services so as to fleece their powerless customers. A survey was carried out in Kisumu to help understand the potential role played by these SSWPs in filling the gap left by the sole public utility. Factors that have seen the success and constraints faced by the SSWPs were examined. Content analysis was reinforced by personal observations from the field survey. Incidentally, SSWPs in Kisumu were most prevalent in the informal settlements and so the survey concentrated here. SSWPs dominate the informal water market. 42% of the residents, mainly residing in the informal settlements access water through alternative self supply. SSWPs are prevalent in areas with low coverage levels, in the affluent areas where the sole official water provider, KIWASCO, water supply is not sufficient and unplanned informal settlements that are difficult to access. Several factors affected the source of water including usage of the water, urgency, time of day, affordability and quality. 84% of the SSWPs encountered were single-purpose, single entrepreneur entities, with just 16% being community driven and/or NGO lead enterprises. Because of this, their establishment came into being as a result of a variety of reasons including, meeting consumer demand, responding to a crisis, as part of a larger business venture or for profits. Even so, less than 40% of the SSWPs reported having any meaningful communication with  KIWASCO. In the midst of all this, cartels have sprung up and are killing the spirit of competition. But on the
reverse, “book” enforcement of rules and standards by KIWASCO is not working effectively as it should. This paper re-emphasises the importance SSWPs play in water provision. It retaliates the position that they should be part of the solution to the challenges of water provision. They deserve recognition and support. They are adaptable to local conditions, convenient, have flexible payment system, offer employment and are income generating enterprises to those with meagre earnings. The study identified that the individualistic approach adapted by SSWPs is limiting their potential. It proposes franchising as a way forward.