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Rapid assessment of prepaid water systems in Africa

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conference contribution
posted on 12.02.2018, 15:10 by Chris Heymans, Kathy Eales, Richard Franceys
Prepaid water meter systems appear to overcome many of the challenges of supplying water to a range of consumers in Africa. However there are concerns as to the effect on the human right to water as well as on the viability of the approach to water service providers on scale. The paper presents findings from a World Bank study in eight African countries using on-site data collection, key informant interviews, 27 focus groups and 1,180 household surveys in three countries. The study found that customers appreciate the convenience and believe that prepaid systems have enabled them to manage household expenses better, reducing the risk of incurring debt or disconnection. However, although many utilities believe the benefits outweigh the costs, they report that the robustness of prepaid meters varies at present varies considerably, leaving utilities too reliant on technical support from suppliers, which is not always timeously available. Initial capital costs are also relatively high.



  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering

Research Unit

  • Water, Engineering and Development Centre (WEDC)

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WEDC Conference


HEYMANS, C. ... et al, 2015. Rapid assessment of prepaid water systems in Africa. IN: Shaw, R.J. (ed). Water, sanitation and hygiene services beyond 2015 - Improving access and sustainability: Proceedings of the 38th WEDC International Conference, Loughborough, UK, 27-31 July 2015, 6pp.


© WEDC, Loughborough University


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This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

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