Akosua Boakye - Ansah

PhD fellow


Ms. Akosua Sarpong Boakye-Ansah on 5 November 2020. Find the link to her thesis here: http://www.un-ihe.org/news/ms-akosua-boakye-ansah-awarded-doctoral-degree

Akosua Sarpong Boakye-Ansah is a PhD fellow affiliated to the Integrated Water Systems and Governance (IWSG) department. Her research forms part of the project, Performance Enhancement of Water Utilities in Kenya through benchmarking, collective learning and innovative financing (PEWAK). Her research focuses on the conflicting demands of water utilities in their daily services to the urban poor – delving into the challenges water utilities face in ensuring equitable service provision in cities and understanding how utilities try to address these challenges.

Prior to pursuing this PhD research, Akosua worked with the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) as a Water Quality Assurance officer, after graduating with a BSc (second class upper) in Laboratory technology from the University of Cape-Coast, Ghana. She also holds an MSc with distinction in Water Management (specialization in Water Quality management) from IHE Delft.  For her MSc thesis research, she focused on the quality of drinking water supplied in cities – with particular interest in how decisions on infrastructural development, maintenance and monitoring shape the quality of water supplied to consumers in low-income areas.


Performance Enhancement of Water Utilities in Kenya (PEWAK)

Research Summary

Topic: Pro-poor strategies in urban water provisioning: what Kenyan water utilities do and how thy do it.

Despite being the region with the fastest growing urban population, Africa has the lowest water supply coverage. Given that most of the urban population growth is taking place in poor neighbourhoods, where settlements are informal and unplanned, water service providers face a challenging task of extending service to such areas, without compromising the cost recovery principles associated with their operations. In their effort to ensure that they deliver in spite of such complexities, public water utilities assume the identity of commercial entities working towards cost recovery on the one hand, and that of a social entities acting in the good of the public on the other. They merge these two identities through the adoption of pro-poor strategies. With pro-poor strategies, water utilities differentiate service to meet the needs of consumers residing in different settlements in cities. The use of service differentiation represents a shift away from ‘standardised universal service’ or ‘the modern infrastructural ideal’, to which most water utilities adhered to in the past. Consumers in low-income areas are provided “appropriate” service levels through;

  • The technology used for providing services
  • The organization/management of service delivery and
  • Financial regimes which cater to their level of affordability

How public urban water utilities try to take on both identities through such pro-poor strategies is what I aim at researching, through a case study of three urban water utilities in Kenya. I aim to emphasise the conflicting demands of water utilities in their daily services to the urban poor. Because the intent of this study to produce novel insights into how urban water utilities are attempting to satisfy their social mandate alongside their other performance objectives, the foundations will not be set on existing theories. However, grounded theory approach will be applied in order to conceptualize these insights through their emergence from data collection and analysis.


Journal articles

  • Boakye-Ansah A.S., Schwartz K., Zwarteveen M. (2019). From rowdy cartels to organized ones? The transfer of power in urban water supply in Kenya. European Journal for Development Studies.
  • Boakye-Ansah A.S., Schwartz K., Zwarteveen M. (2019). “Unravelling Pro-poor Water Services: What does it mean and why is it so popular? Journal of Water and Sanitation for Development.
  • Rusca, M., Boakye-Ansah, A.S., Loftus, A., Ferrero, G., van der Zaag, P. (2017). An interdisciplinary political ecology of drinking water quality. Exploring socio-ecological inequalities in Lilongwe’s water supply network. Geoforum, 84, 138-146
  • Boakye-Ansah, A. S., Ferrero, G., Rusca, M., & van der Zaag, P. (2016). Inequalities in microbial contamination of drinking water supplies in urban areas: the case of Lilongwe, Malawi. Journal of Water and Health.

Blog post

Conference papers/abstracts

  • Boakye-Ansah A.S., Schwartz K., Zwarteveen M. (2018). The (im)possibilities of improving access to utility water in urban low-income areas through service differentiation: Evidence from Kenya. Paper presented at the Sustainability and development conference. 10 November, Michigan, USA.
  • Boakye-Ansah A.S., Schwartz K., Zwarteveen M (2018). Assessing the Impacts of Pro-poor Interventions on the Performance of Urban Water Utilities. The case of Kisumu, Nakuru and Kericho. Paper presented at the 19th Waternet Symposium. 2 November, Livingstone, Zambia.
  • Assessing the Impact of Pro-Poor Interventions on Access to Utility Water in Low-Income Areas. The Case of Nakuru, Kisumu and Kericho. Paper presented at the CDS conference on Critical Perspective on Governance by Sustainable Development Goals: Water, Food and Climate 26 June, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
  • Boakye-Ansah A.S., Schwartz K., Zwarteveen M. (2017). From rowdy cartels to organized ones? The transfer of power in urban water supply in Kenya. Paper presented at the 18th WaterNet/WARFSA/GWP-SA Symposium, 27 October, Swakopmund, Namibia.

Books/Book Chapters

  • Boakye-Ansah A. S. Inequalities in drinking water quality in urban areas: a case study of Lilongwe, Malawi. UNESCO-IHE MSc. Thesis WM-WQM.15-05, 2015


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