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Working Paper

The Limits and Possibilities of Prepaid Water in Urban Africa : Lessons from the Field

ACCESS TO SERVICES ACCESS TO WATER ACCOUNTABILITY TO CUSTOMERS ADEQUATE WATER AFFLUENT AFFORDABLE WATER ALTERNATIVE WATER BLOCK TARIFF BLOCK TARIFFS BOREHOLES BULK METERS CASH FLOW CASH FLOWS CERTIFICATION CHEAP WATER CHEAPER WATER CITY COUNCIL CIVIL SOCIETY COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT COST OF WATER COST RECOVERY CROSS-SUBSIDIES CROSS-SUBSIDIZATION CUSTOMER RELATIONS DEMAND FOR WATER DEMAND MANAGEMENT DISTRIBUTION NETWORK DOMESTIC CONNECTION DOMESTIC CONNECTIONS DOMESTIC USERS EQUITABLE ACCESS FINANCIAL VIABILITY FIXED TARIFF FLUSH TOILETS FREE WATER HIGH WATER HOUSE CONNECTION HOUSE CONNECTIONS HOUSEHOLD CONNECTION HOUSEHOLDS HYGIENE INDIVIDUAL CONNECTIONS LAUNDRY LIFELINE TARIFF LIFELINE TARIFFS LOCAL AUTHORITIES LOW WATER LOW WATER PRESSURE LOW-INCOME HOUSEHOLDS MAINTENANCE COSTS METER READING METER READINGS MOVING PARTS MUNICIPAL WATER MUNICIPAL WATER DEPARTMENTS MUNICIPALITIES NATIONAL WATER OPERATIONAL EFFICIENCY PAYMENT FOR WATER PERFORMANCE DATA PERFORMANCE IMPROVEMENTS POTABLE WATER PRIVATE OPERATORS PUBLIC STANDPIPE PUBLIC STANDPIPES PUBLIC WATER PUBLIC WELLS RECHARGE REGULATORY FRAMEWORKS RESIDENTIAL CUSTOMERS SAFE WATER SAND SANITARY ENGINEER SANITATION SANITATION PROGRAM SANITATION SERVICES SANITATION UTILITIES SERVICE DELIVERY SERVICE IMPROVEMENT SERVICE PROVIDER SERVICE PROVIDERS SERVICE PROVISION SMALL PRIVATE PROVIDERS SMALL TOWNS SUPPLY INTERRUPTIONS SUPPLY OF WATER SUPPLY WATER TARIFF SYSTEM TOILETS TOWN URBAN AREAS URBAN CENTERS URBAN POPULATIONS URBAN SETTLEMENTS URBAN UTILITIES URBAN WATER URBAN WATER SUPPLY USERS OF WATER UTILITIES UTILITIES CORPORATION UTILITY STAFF VOLUMES OF WATER WATER ALLOCATION WATER ASSOCIATION WATER BILLS WATER CONNECTION WATER CONNECTIONS WATER CONSERVATION WATER CONSUMPTION WATER CUSTOMERS WATER DEMAND WATER LOSS WATER METER WATER METERING WATER METERS WATER NEEDS WATER POINT WATER POINTS WATER PRESSURE WATER PRICES WATER SECTOR WATER SERVICE WATER SERVICE PROVIDERS WATER SERVICES WATER SOURCES WATER SUPPLIES WATER SUPPLY WATER SUPPLY INTERRUPTIONS WATER SYSTEM WATER SYSTEMS WATER TARIFFS WATER USER WATER USERS WATER UTILITIES WATER UTILITY WATER VENDORS WELLS
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World Bank, Washington, DC
Africa | Sub-Saharan Africa
2017-02-17T16:20:41Z | 2017-02-17T16:20:41Z | 2014-08

This study explores the potential of prepaid meters for serving urban poor communities. It provides urban utilities, oversight agencies, and other stakeholders in Africa with a basis for decision-making on the suitability, introduction, and management of such meters. The need for the assessment emerged from prepaid meters increasingly being utilized by water and sanitation utilities in developing countries, including World Bank clients. The technologies adopted have expanded over this period, but there has been a lack of consolidated data and analysis that capture the service delivery, operational efficiency, and access to services aspects of such systems across utilities and regions systematically. The review initially aimed to research experiences in six African countries from the perspective of their communities, as well as from water sector bodies, governments, and other investors. The number of case studies was increased to eight with the addition of Windhoek in Namibia and Nakuru in Kenya, as it became apparent that they may offer additional lessons. Windhoek, for example, is one of the prepaid water pioneers in Africa. The study specifically canvased the perspectives of customers, including market research and opinion surveys on people s experience and views of prepaid water in practice. Women and children were well represented in many of these groups. The analysis aimed to be robustly investigative, deliberately not advocating for prepaid systems in principle, or making firm recommendations, but rather offering balanced analysis and assessment, and considerations to inform policymakers and sector leaders, as well as other stakeholders who may face decisions or challenges on such systems. One of the key conceptual bases that the analysis identified was the need to differentiate between prepaid applications of prepaid system for standpipes, individual connections, and institutional and commercial customers each of which have different implications for their users, as well as for cost effectiveness. Utilities must be able to justify the investment in a prepayment system and its opportunity costs specific to the application they choose, and relative to alternative means of improving services.

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