Systems for regular, preventive maintenance of infrastructure are needed to ensure safe water access globally. Emerging and growing across rural sub-Saharan Africa, professionalized maintenance arrangements feature legal, regulated service providers who maintain infrastructure in exchange for consumer payment through contracts. However, little is understood about the conditions that enable service providers to retain consumer contracts, an important component of their sustainability that indicates consistent demand and payment. This paper, developed as part of the USAID Sustainable WASH Systems Learning Partnership, uses fuzzy-set Qualitative Comparative Analysis to identify combinations of operational, natural, physical, political, and social conditions enabling high contract retention across 22 implementation cases in Uganda, uncovering 2 pathways to success. Both pathways feature consistent expansion by the service provider and local government participation. The predominant pathway features one additional condition, coordinated sector aid, while the alternative pathway relies on large user communities and ease of access to those communities.
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