Evaluating waterpoint sustainability and access implications of revenue collection approaches in rural Kenya
- Publication Type:
- Journal Article
- Water Resources Research, 2017, 53 (2), pp. 1473 - 1490
- Issue Date:
© 2017. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved. Water policies in many sub-Saharan African countries stipulate that rural communities are responsible for self-financing their waterpoint's operation and maintenance. In the absence of policy consensus or evidence on optimal payment models, rural communities adopt a diversity of approaches to revenue collection. This study empirically assesses waterpoint sustainability and access outcomes associated with different revenue collection approaches on the south coast of Kenya. The analysis draws on a unique data set comprising financial records spanning 27 years and 100 communities, operational performance indicators for 200 waterpoints, and water source choices for more than 2000 households. Results suggest communities collecting pay-as-you-fetch fees on a volumetric basis generate higher levels of revenue and experience better operational performance than communities charging flat fees. In both cases, financial flows mirror seasonal rainfall peaks and troughs. These outcomes are tempered by evidence that households are more likely to opt for an unimproved drinking water source when a pay-as-you-fetch system is in place. The findings illuminate a possible tension between financial sustainability and universal access. If the Sustainable Development Goal of “safe water for all” is to become a reality, policymakers and practitioners will need to address this issue and ensure rural water services are both sustainable and inclusive.
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