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Journal of Water and Health Vol 9 No 4 pp 773–784 © IWA Publishing 2011 doi:10.2166/wh.2011.031

Water supply services for Africa's urban poor: the role of resale

Valentina Zuin, Leonard Ortolano, Manuel Alvarinho, Kory Russel, Anne Thebo, Odete Muximpua and Jennifer Davis

Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA
Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA E-mail: jennadavis@stanford.edu
Water Regulatory Council (CRA), Maputo, Mozambique
Water and Sanitation Program, The World Bank, Maputo, Mozambique
Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University, CA 94305, USA


In sub-Saharan Africa only 35% of the urban population has access to a piped water connection on their premises. The majority of households obtain water from public standpipes or from neighbors who are connected to the municipal network. Water resale is often prohibited, however, because of concerns about affordability and risks to public health. Using data collected from 1,377 households in Maputo, Mozambique, we compare the microbiological quality, as well as the time and money costs of water supply from individual house connections, public standpipes, and water obtained from neighbors. Households with their own water connections have better service across virtually all indicators measured, and express greater satisfaction with their service, as compared with those using other water sources. Households purchasing water from their neighbors pay lower time and money costs per liter of water, on average, as compared with those using standpipes. Resale competes favorably with standpipes along a number of service quality dimensions; however, after controlling for water supply characteristics, households purchasing water from neighbors are significantly less likely to be satisfied with their water service as compared with those using standpipes.

Keywords: Africa; Mozambique; urban water supply; water quality; water resale

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