From Public Pipes to Private Hands
Water Access & Distribution in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Stockholm Studies in Human Geography, No. 15

By Marianne Kjellen
December 2006
Stockholm University
Distributed By Coronet Books, Inc.
ISBN: 9185445436
329 pages, Illustrated, 6 1/2 x 9 1/2"
$99.50 Paper Original

While privatization involving international water companies hits the news headlines, more discreet forms of privatisation already exists at the local level. This work explores the intricate roles of public and private actors in the water system in Dar es Salaam. Three forms of privatization are examined: the formal private sector participation in utility operations, informal water vending, and the spaghettization of the piped distribution network.

By leasing the water system to an international consortium, the Tanzanian government fulfilled the World's Bank condition to privatize operations, and thus received a major credit to rehabilitate the dilapidated water infrastructure. It also made Dar es Salaam part of the global trend of water services privatization. The lease contract with the private operator was however prematurely revoked. The privatization experiment had failed to bring the merits advanced by proponents, but also the evils alleged by opponents.

Due to long-standing under-performance and low coverage of the piped water system, people have had to devise their own ways to access water. This thesis argues that the individually devised artisan ways of water provisioning constitute the lifeline of the city's water system. Yet, they also undermine and divert resources away from the collectively devised industrial form of piped water provision. Though water production and transmission is mainly in the hands of the public utility company, onward distribution to consumers relies primarily on private resellers, distributing vendors and people's own labor. Water thus goes from public pipes to private hands.

Urban Planning; African Studies

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