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Utilitisation - IRC Theme Paper published

Following on from the IRC Symposium and IRC CEO's Patrick Moriarty's editorial on the subject, Marieke Adank, Rene van Lieshout and Richard Ward have just published 'Utility-managed rural water services, Models, pathways, drivers, performance and areas for support - Thematic Overview Paper'. 'This paper discusses the different

pathways under which the ‘utilitisation’ of rural water supply can take place, the factors that drive these processes, the strengths and weaknesses of the resulting models of utility-managed rural water supply, and possible areas for support.'


Going on to explain that 'in order to understand the pathways and drivers of

utilitisation of rural water supply, and strengths and weaknesses of utility-managed rural water supply, this study investigated 33 cases of utility-managed rural water supply that were identified from 22 countries in Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa. The study reveals a wide variety of models of utility-managed rural water supply along the urban-rural continuum, including urban-focused utilities, which also provide rural services, mixed urban-rural utilities, and rural focused utilities. Under these models, utilities were found to either serve a single service area (e.g., a town, with surrounding rural areas, a district, with a mix of rural and urban areas, or a predominantly rural area), or multiple service areas (e.g., a national utility serving multiple towns and their rural areas, a utility serving multiple mixed areas, or a rural utility serving multiple

rural service areas).'



From my perspective, this is a very important step forward for the sector to understand better how we might really get to scale in 'piped on premises' potable water in rural areas. We cannot continue to expect NGO's to support sustainable services and communities, as we showed in the 'Community Management of Rural Water Supply' book (Hutchings et al, 2017), can only get so far. CW+, as the case studies from India showed in that publication, are the next step forward but the most successful of those case studies were showing clear signs of becoming 'mini-utilities', and those with government bulk water supplies delivering the necessary, and resilient, water resources showed every indication of 'utilitisation'.


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