Rethinking The Economics of Water in Rural Africa

Rural Africa faces an ongoing challenge to provide safe drinking water to everyone. Decades of effort and billions of dollars of investment have yielded modest gains, with high but avoidable health and economic costs borne by over 300 million people lacking basic water access. This journal article in the Oxford Review of Economic Policy explores why rural water is different for communities, schools, and healthcare facilities across characteristics of scale, institutions, demand, and finance.

Authors from USAID’s Sustainable WASH Systems Learning Partnership conclude these findings with policy recommendations to (i) network rural services at scale, (ii) unlock rural payments by creating value, and (iii) design and test performance-based funding models at national and regional scales, with an ambition to eliminate the need for future, sustainable development goals.