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Improving water utility services through delegated management
Lessons from the utility and small-scale providers in Kisumu, Kenya
This Field Note describes a successful technical and management approach for providing safe and affordable water to the informal settlements of Kisumu, Kenya's third largest city. In this approach, which is one of many delegated management models, the water utility sells bulk water to community contractors, who then sell it to households or kiosk vendors. The main water service provider offers contractors, termed 'master operators' (MOs), a bulk supply tariff. In turn, the master operators are responsible for minor maintenance, such as the repair of small leaks, and the management of customer interfaces. The advantages to the utility and consumers of such partnerships between utilities and community operators are described and explored. The main advantage is an improvement in the technical and financial performance of water utilities, such as outsourcing of distribution and customer care to private operators or communitybased organizations, which allows the utilities to focus on supplying high quality potable water, as their core business. For informal settlement residents, the advantages are that water is brought closer to their homes and made more affordable, with a number of service options being provided. The Field Note includes a description of a pilot project in Nyalenda, the largest informal settlement in Kisumu, and concludes with recommendations for scaling up the model in Kisumu and replicating it in Kenya and other countries.