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From Public Pipes to Private Hands: Water Access and Distribution in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Human Geography.
2006 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In cities around the world, public water systems have increasingly come to be operated by private companies. Along with an internationally funded investment program to refurbish the dilapidated water infrastructure, private operations were tested also in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Only about a third of the households, however, are reached by the piped water system there; most households purchase water from those with pipe-connections or private boreholes. Thus, water distribution was informally privatized by way of water vending long before formal private sector participation began.

This thesis explores individual and collective endeavors in water development, distribution, and access, along with the global and local influences that shaped the privatization exercise. With regard to the lease of Dar es Salaam’s water system, the institutional set-up has been found to mix the British and French models, having influenced the local situation through development assistance and conditionalities tied to loans. The institutional contradictions may have contributed to the conflictive cancellation of the lease arrangement.

Due to the public utility company’s lack of operating capital and investment planning, infrastructure development has responded mainly to immediate individual demands, resulting in a spaghetti-like network and structural leakage. The long-standing under-performance and low coverage of the piped water system have forced many people to devise their own ways to access water. This thesis argues that the individually-devised artisan ways of water provisioning constitute the life-line of Dar es Salaam’s water system. Yet, they also undermine and divert resources away from the collectively-devised industrial form of piped water provision.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis, 2006. , 332 p.
Stockholm studies in human geography, ISSN 0349-7003 ; 15
Keyword [en]
leakage, poverty, privatization, public utility regulation, spaghettization, urban water management, water vending
National Category
Social and Economic Geography
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-1212ISBN: 91-85445-43-6OAI: diva2:189600
Public defence
2006-09-22, William-Olssonsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 8 A, Stockholm, 10:15 (English)
Available from: 2006-08-31 Created: 2006-08-31 Last updated: 2012-07-09Bibliographically approved

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