Governing Water for Africa's Urban Poor: Opportunities and Limits of Citizen-State Coproduction
Ellis Adjei Adams, Assistant Professor of Geography and Environmental Policy, Keough School of Global Affairs
Abstract: Nearly 70 percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s urban population lives in informal settlements where poor access to safe and affordable drinking water threatens the health and wellbeing of millions. However, public (state-based) and private (market-based) institutional arrangements for water supply have largely failed to improve safe water access for the urban poor, prompting interest in citizen-state coproduction as one viable alternative. However, little is known about the potential for citizen-state coproduction to improve access to water in Africa’s urban informal settlements. In this talk, I draw from Malawi’s experimentation with community-public partnerships (CPPs), a form of citizen-state coproduction, to answer the broader question of whether community-based water delivery holds promise for poor and underserved urban areas in the Global South. More specifically, I discuss whether citizen-state coproduction of urban water services can simultaneously improve water supply and lead to community development and empowerment.