Systems for regular, preventive maintenance of infrastructure are needed to ensure safe water access globally. Emerging and growing across rural sub-Saharan Africa, professionalized maintenance arrangements feature legal, regulated service providers who maintain infrastructure in exchange for consumer payment through contracts. However, little is understood about the conditions that enable service providers to retain consumer contracts, an important component of their sustainability that indicates consistent demand and payment. This paper uses fuzzy-set Qualitative Comparative Analysis to identify combinations of operational, natural, physical, political, and social conditions enabling high contract retention across 22 implementation cases in Uganda, uncovering 2 pathways to success. In both pathways, consistent expansion by the service provider normalizes concepts such as tariff payment and local government participation increases trust and accountability between the service provider and consumers. The predominant pathway features one additional condition, coordinated sector aid, ensuring consistent implementation and mitigating harmful dependencies. The alternative pathway relies on large user communities and ease of access to those communities to counteract uncoordinated aid. Thus, operational, social, and political conditions may be suf!cient to enable high contract retention irrespective of natural and physical conditions. This paper uncovers the combined efforts required of service providers, service authorities, international donors, and local aid actors to ensure the sustainable maintenance of rural water infrastructure for reliable safe water access.
Cord, C., Javernick-Will, A., Buhungiro, E., Harvey, A., Jordan, E., Lockwood, H., & Linden, K. (2022). Pathways to consumer demand and payment for professional rural water infrastructure maintenance across low-income contexts. Science of The Total Environment, 815, 152906.