In most cities in developing countries state-led or regulated water utilities serve between 40% and 70% of the urban population (Nickson, 2002; Mwanza, 2005). Where water utilities in the global South do not provide services, the water market is fragmented into a large variety of small-scale water providers (Matshine et al., 2008), which operate for profit or for philanthropic reasons (Clark, 1995; Solo, 1999; Brinkerhoff, 2002; Kariuki and Schwartz, 2005; Batley, 2006). Despite the growing importance of these small-scale water providers little is known about how they operate and function. In order to improve access to services in informal settlements, further research in the Small Scale Water Providers water market (institutions, business models, sustainability, effectiveness, knowledge and financial flows, gendered service provision) needs to be undertaken. This research project addresses three themes which are specific developmental concerns and have been under researched both in the African and Asian context:
Gender and basic service provision in slum environments - The gender issues apparent in basic service provision in urban poor settlements have been poorly researched in the African and Asian context. While gendered access to water and sanitation services has been object of a number of studies, very little is known about gender roles, networks and potential in establishing a (in)formal water business.
Informal service provisioning in slum environments in secondary and tertiary cities - This work package addresses a gap in current research as secondary towns, in comparison to large cities, have received very little attention. This is surprising as most of the urbanization process actually takes place in secondary cities (Cohen 2006).
SSIPs and urban development: the role of SSIPs - This research project will focus on the dynamics of peri-urban growth and how water service delivery by small-scale providers develops in these peri-urban areas.in particular, it twill look at the potential of SSIPs to serve poor urban dwellers.