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  • Richard


Following my paper to IRC's 2019 Symposium I was pleased to see IRC's CEO, Patrick Moriarty pick up on the idea in his February 2020 Blog: "Public utilities are expanding into rural areas, are they the future of water and sanitation services?"

"Professionalisation of rural WASH services

This process that we sometimes refer to as ‘utilitisation’ is something that we see occurring in all of the countries where IRC works. It is driven by a combination of factors – increasing urbanisation of rural areas, growing demand (and willingness to pay) for higher quality services, and a desire by Governments to provide these in line with national and international commitments. In some cases, this means taking over management of water networks previously under community management or small-scale private provision.

It is something that I believe is a largely positive development, representing a maturing of the water and sanitation sector. It represents a badly needed professionalisation of water and sanitation service delivery, particularly where it replaces community management that has largely failed to deliver. Or perhaps more fairly, that delivers at a level that is no longer in line with people’s growing aspirations or indeed the norms set by the Sustainable Development Goals. Because public utilities have the explicit backing of Government, it also makes this approach at least potentially, easier to finance."

The reference is to my Symposium Paper where I not only launch this horrible word 'utilitisation', but also develop issues around the 'evolution of institutions' - that is institutions can only develop within their own broader governance context and that this takes much longer than any of us would hope for.

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