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For centuries, Small Water Enterprises (SWEs) have supplied a large share of the water market in the urban centres of most low-income countries. Such SWEs have proved themselves economically viable, and often operate in competitive conditions. They extend water services to informal settlements that have little prospect of being supplied with piped water from the local utility. Unfortunately, they attract comparatively little investment, and even less support from governments. The incremental but critically important improvements they can provide tend to be overlooked by governments and international agencies. In international statistics any household that gets its water from vendors is defined as lacking access to improved water supplies.
This book is one of the outputs from a project designed to identify and test out ways of improving the water services delivered to the urban poor through SWEs. As such, it will prove an invaluable resource for water utility managers and policymakers. The book includes accounts of fieldwork undertaken in a number of African cities: Dar es Salaam (Tanzania); Nairobi (Kenya); Khartoum (Sudan) and Accra (Ghana). Even in these cities, where dependence on SWEs is high, the services provided by these SWEs have been poorly documented until now.
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