Jordanian authorities have achieved a nearly one hundred percent connection rate to municipal water supply services in urban areas. Following this unusual achievement for a lower-income country, a private management contractor was introduced to the capital city Amman, along with a form of economic regulation. However, water rationing due to extreme water scarcity, amplified by high and irregular population growth, disproportionately affects the city's low-income households. This paper investigates the status of water supply service and regulatory arrangements with respect to poor and vulnerable consumers who were targeted in a household survey in June/July 2005. It identifies specific regulatory challenges which were not within the remit of or addressed by the acting quasi-regulator and the water authorities. In its extremes of connection coverage, water scarcity and population, the management of water supply in Amman presages the pro-poor water service challenge of many, even lower income, economies irrespective of the extent to which they may achieve the access targets of the Millennium Development Goals.
Geoforum (2009) 40 (3) 431-441 [doi:10.1016/j.geoforum.2008.11.002]