3.2.1 Water supply services

Water supply includes the source of water, treatment plant, reservoir and tanks, main trunk lines, distribution lines and individual connection lines for the delivery of potable water (Ministry of Works and Urban Development, 2006). (Potable water is water that is safe to drink.) Treatment systems are not needed where sources are known to be clean and safe, for example water from protected springs and boreholes (Figure 3.2).

Figure 3.2 A protected borehole provides a clean source of water.

Due to the large number of different components required for an efficient system, water supply services require substantial investment. Governments may take loans from international development banks and other foreign agencies to finance large urban infrastructure projects, but in general most of this investment is obtained from the public in the form of tax.

Water supply systems also require adequate finance to operate and function properly. This cost is usually recovered from revenue generated as users pay for the services they get, and depends on the volume of water consumed over a period of time.

An adequate level of service for urban water supply was defined in 2011 as a minimum of 20 litres of clean water for one person per day, accessible at a distance not exceeding 500 m (MoWE, 2011). (Note that this figure has since changed and the minimum urban water supply service standard is now 40 litres/person/day within a distance of 250 m (MoWIE, 2015).) Based on this service level, water supply coverage in urban areas reached 81.3% in 2012/13 (MoFED, 2014). This indicates that a high proportion of the urban population can access an adequate supply of water. However, those living in slum areas often have to buy water from water vendors. They could be paying up to ten times more than those with access to piped water, for water of dubious quality.

Providing an uninterrupted supply of water is a huge challenge for most towns due to limited finance, equipment or manpower. Some sectors of the urban population get more water, while others get only a limited amount. For example, town centre families with higher than average income and water taps on their premises may get a lot more than 20 litres per person per day. Alternatively, poor families who live in peri-urban areas or slums may use less than five litres per person per day.

3.2 Key service areas in urban WASH

3.2.2 Sanitation and sewerage services