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Two African cities highlight challenges with water distribution

Lax regulation in parts of Africa enable private firms to sell unsafe, overpriced drinking water. (punghi /

Across the globe, an estimated 150 million slum dwellers in developing cities lack access to affordable, safe drinking water. Benjamin Edwards and Mohammad Hamze write for the Urban Institute that gaps in governance are often to blame.

Two African cities with weak regulations highlight the problem. In Ga West, Ghana, private companies fill the void in water delivery with high prices and a low quality product. “The municipality does not have the staff or the resources to effectively monitor water quality in the private sector, and has not prioritized it,” the authors lament.

It’s a similar situation in Nakuru, Kenya, where new laws governing distribution are as cloudy as a glass of the water now available. With the laws unclear, local and regional officials tussle over which is responsible for providing service, the article says. In the meantime, residents must rely on NGOs and unregulated private distributors. The latter have been accused of selling subpar water at inflated prices. 

Urban Institute

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