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An Audacious Plan to Deliver Safe, Reliable Water to All of Rural Benin… Profitably

Summary

Can an ambitious public-private partnership lead to the successful delegation of rural water supply management to small businesses for an entire country in sub-Saharan Africa? Benin offers a test case.

In a 2020 article, Dr. Rob Hope and collaborators in Oxford University’s REACH program described aspects of scale, demand, institutions, and finance that make rural water economics so fundamentally different (and more challenging) than urban water supply.

Recognition of these kinds of obstacles motivated the government of Benin to engage in a decade-long effort to first test and then scale a novel policy approach to delivering rural water supply services, with support and technical assistance from the World Bank. In this approach, known as regional affermage, the government assumes the capital costs for water infrastructure and formally delegates responsibility for the operation and maintenance of rural water supply services. Private sector contractors competitively bid to manage very large consolidated service areas. In Benin’s case, the rural areas are divided into three service areas of approximately three million inhabitants each.

Read the full article on the Global Waters Medium page.

By the REAL Water team