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The role of informal small-scale water supply system in resolving drinking water shortages in peri-urban Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania


Year published: 2018
Categories: Journal Article

Author / Authors:

  • Damas William Mapunda
  • Sophia Shuang Chen
  • Cheng Yu


Developing countries are facing unprecedented urbanization coupled with informal peri-urban growth, characterized by inadequate basic infrastructure provision. A large proportion of peri-urban populations particularly in the Sub-Saharan African region faces limited access to drinking water. Informal water suppliers of varying size and scale have become predominant and fill drinking water supply gap left by public utilities. This paper draws on qualitative and quantitative research approach to examine the state, role and inherent practices of informal water supply system in addressing peri-urban drinking water shortages along with consumers and stakeholders' attitudes towards the system. Open-ended and semi-structured questionnaires were used to interview private water providers, public officials, households and other stakeholders to document informal water supply practices. The results indicate that informal small-scale providers account for 100% of drinking water in peri-urban settlements, but water infrastructures are in the dire state as its investment is carried out without adequate professional guidance. Furthermore over 64.1% of the communities acknowledged the importance of informal water providers in increasing water access. However, their recognition contravened with public institutions’ position where 60% maintained that public water provision remains a viable option for peri-urban water access. Nevertheless, overall condition depicts that informal small-scale water supply systems remain pertinent and leading drinking water access options for many households in peri-urban settlements. Acknowledging its contribution along with integration into public regulatory mechanism can greatly contribute towards the improvement of water supply services to the majority of informal urban and peri-urban populations.

Applied Geography, Volume 92, 2018, Pages 112-122,


  • Journal Article