In June 2010 SNV, together with IFAD, organised a conference on ‘brokering knowledge for upscaling best practices in Inclusive Markets Access in East & Southern Africa’, which brought together over 70 participants from 11 African countries from donor, public and private sector to share experiences. This report summarizes the main issues discussed during the conference, of which the main focus was seeking to bring about systemic change for larger-scale sustainable inclusive markets with a wider significance.
This Practice Brief shares experiences from SNV’s practice in supporting small town water companies in several African countries. As part of sector-wide reforms being undertaken in these countries and elsewhere in Africa, dedicated agencies have been created to deliver water and sanitation services to local populations. Their emergence marks the transition from poorly-managed and inefficient water utilities to more commercially viable service providers that can expand and sustain access to affordable basic services. SNV has provided extensive capacity building support to enable the nascent utilities to improve their service delivery, with a focus on enhancing their planning and operational capacities. Linked to this, significant efforts have been made to strengthen relations between small town water companies, their customers and other stakeholders.
One of the arguments commonly advanced against commercialisation is that this will take place at the expense of the poor. While this risk is acknowledged, the experiences discussed in the Practice Brief confirm that poorer groups in small towns and peri-urban areas - who are disproportionately affected by inadequate services - can benefit from socially responsible commercialisation. However, targeted support needs to be combined with pro-poor policies if it is to deliver the desired results.