University of Hertfordshire

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Waiting for Miracles: The Commercialization of Urban Water Services in Zambia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-121
JournalDevelopment and Change
Journal publication date2008
Publication statusPublished - 2008


This article focuses on the commercialization of urban water services in Zambia. It aims to demonstrate the tension between cost recovery and service extension when water sector reforms combine investment cuts with price increases. It is argued that in low-income economies where infrastructure limitations are serious and poverty is widespread, heavy reliance on ‘tariff rationalization’ with low levels of investment can lead to reduced access to water and render water charges unaffordable. Reforms to public services can prove futile in the absence of upfront resources for investment in the restoration and extension of the existing infrastructure. In many ways, Zambia typifies other low-income economies; this study thus offers useful lessons for them

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