Water services regulation for the urban poor: Zambia


There is rapid urbanisation in developing countries, where UN Habitat estimates that 80% of the world urban population will live by 2030. Urban water utilities are facing a challenge of continuously extending services to the rapidly expanding towns and cities, particularly so when most of the population growth is absorbed by slums, leading to an increasing number of the urban poor. Economic regulation of urban water service providers is therefore necessary to guard the equity principle and promote universal water service coverage that is an overarching target for achievement of UN millennium development goals (MDGs). This paper reports on research carried out in Lusaka, Zambia, one of seven case studies in a global research study on whether the needs of the urban poor have been incorporated, as a primary duty of regulation. The study found that NWASCO, the Zambian regulator, has made commendable progress towards 'good regulation' principles of independence, accountability, consistency, transparency, proportionality and equitable targeting of interventions. Clearly, there are good lessons for policy makers in other developing countries to learn from the way regulation structures, systems and procedures were set up in Zambia, and how they have evolved over time. Increased consumer participation will make the regulatory regime more pro-poor.


Kagaya, S.; Franceys, R. Water services regulation for the urban poor: Zambia. Proceedings of the ICE - Water Management (2008) 161 (2) 65-71. [DOI: 10.1680/wama.2008.161.2.65]

Published 1 January 2008