The End of Ownership

IRC, VIA Water, Aqua for All
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In an approach that has gained ground in rural areas of several less-developed countries, the manufacturer or supplier of a water or sanitation system leases the
infrastructure to communities or individuals and assumes responsibility for its operation, maintenance and eventual replacement. In a variation of such arrangements, the company sells the infrastructure but handles service provision. In both cases, the users pay small, regular fees for services. The arrangements create an incentive for companies to maintain the infrastructure while surmounting a major hurdle to improved water and sanitation: that poor people cannot afford capital investment and capital maintenance. Is this market-based approach the way of the future, or is it an interim solution until governments establish reliable public utilities?

About this brief
This paper was written in relation to a joint IRC–VIA Water event that took place on 25 May 2016 in The Hague on the topic of the end-of-ownership
approach, and its potential for the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector. It contains the literature review done in preparation for the event and the main reflections presented by architect Thomas Rau and Catarina Fonseca (IRC). For additional information, go to