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Water for a few: a history of urban water and sanitation in East Africa
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0611-7512
2006 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other scientific)
Abstract [en]

This licentiate thesis describes and analyses the modern history of the socio-technical systems for urban water supply and sanitation in East Africa with focus on Uganda and Kenya. The key objective of the thesis is to evaluate to what extent the historic processes frame and influence the water and sanitation services sectors in these countries today. The theoretical approach combines the Large Technical Systems approach from the discipline of History of Technology with New Institutional Economics. Throughout, urban water and sanitation service systems are regarded as socio-technical systems, where institutions, organisation and technology all interact. The thesis consists of three separate articles and a synthesis in the form of a framework narrative. The first article provides a discussion of the theoretical framework with special focus on the application of Public Goods theory to urban water and sanitation. The second article describes the establishment of the large-scale systems for water supply and sanitation in Kampala, Uganda in the period 1920-1950. The third article focuses on the politics of urban water supply in Kenya with emphasis on the period 1900-1990.

The main findings in this thesis are that the socio-technical systems for urban water and sanitation evolve over long periods of time and are associated with inertia that makes these systems change slowly. The systems were established in the colonial period to mainly respond to the needs and preferences of a wealthy minority and a technological paradigm evolved based on capital-intensive and large-scale technology. Attempts to expand services to all citizens in the post-colonial period under this paradigm were not sustainable due to changes in the social, political and economic environment while incentives for technological change were largely absent. History thus frames decisions in the public sphere even today, through technological and institutional inertia. Knowing the history of these socio-technical systems is therefore important, in order to understand key sector constraints, and for developing more sustainable service provision.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH , 2006. , 55 p.
Series
Trita-HOT, ISSN 0349-2842 ; 2052
Keyword [en]
urban water, urban sanitation, urban history, development studies, African history, environmental history, large technical systems, socio-technical systems, institutional change, public service
National Category
History of Technology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-4173ISBN: 91-7178-472-1 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-4173DiVA: diva2:11059
Presentation
2006-11-20, 543, Sing-Sing, Lindstedsv 30, Stockholm, 10:15
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
QC 20101122Available from: 2006-11-17 Created: 2006-11-17 Last updated: 2015-02-11Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. The Evolution of Urban Water and Sanitation in East Africa from a Public Goods Perspective
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Evolution of Urban Water and Sanitation in East Africa from a Public Goods Perspective
2005 (English)In: African Water Histories: Transdisciplinary Discourses / [ed] Tempelhoff, Johann W. N., Vanderbijlpark, South Africa: Vaal Triangle Faculty, North-West University , 2005, 317-345 p.Chapter in book (Refereed)
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Vanderbijlpark, South Africa: Vaal Triangle Faculty, North-West University, 2005
National Category
History of Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-6364 (URN)0-620-34742-2 (ISBN)
Note

QC 20101122

Available from: 2006-11-17 Created: 2006-11-17 Last updated: 2016-02-25Bibliographically approved
2. A heritage of un-sustainability?: Reviewing the origin of the Large-Scale Water and Sanitation system in Kampala, Uganda
Open this publication in new window or tab >>A heritage of un-sustainability?: Reviewing the origin of the Large-Scale Water and Sanitation system in Kampala, Uganda
2006 (English)In: Environment & Urbanization, ISSN 0956-2478, E-ISSN 1746-0301, Vol. 18, no 2, 369-385 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper describes the evolution of the piped water and sewer system in Kampala, Uganda, between 1920 and 1950, and considers the influences this had on the city's later development. Large-scale systems for water and sanitation are associated with an inertia that makes them slow to adapt to a new economic, social or environmental context. It is important to know the history of such systems in order to understand issues of sustainability today. This article shows how the piped water and sewerage systems were introduced to serve mainly the more affluent groups in society. Although the systems were economically and socially sustainable in the colonial context, inherent features of the systems made universal service coverage problematic from an economic point of view. Policy makers need to acknowledge the historic influence and the inertia of systems in order to address current shortcomings in water and sanitation provision, and create sustainable and equitable service provision.

Keyword
Colonial, History, Sanitation, Technology, Urban, Water
National Category
History of Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-6365 (URN)10.1177/0956247806069618 (DOI)000241825300007 ()2-s2.0-33749417314 (Scopus ID)
Note

QC 20150623

Available from: 2006-11-17 Created: 2006-11-17 Last updated: 2015-06-23Bibliographically approved
3. Pipes and Politics: A century of change and continuity in Kenyan urban water supply
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Pipes and Politics: A century of change and continuity in Kenyan urban water supply
2008 (English)In: Journal of Modern African Studies, ISSN 0022-278X, E-ISSN 1469-7777, Vol. 46, no 1, 133-158 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Major institutional reforms are currently under way to improve the performance of the public water sector in Kenya. However, a historical perspective is needed in order to achieve sustainable improvements that will also benefit the urban poor. This article seeks to provide such a perspective, applying a cross-disciplinary and socio-technical approach to urban water supply over the last century, in which institutions, organisations and technology are seen to interact with political, economic and demographic processes. Despite a series of reforms over the years, the socio-technical structure of the urban water sector in Kenya has shown a remarkable stability since the 1920s, and into the 1980s. However, the sustainability of the public service systems has been eroded since independence, due to changes in the institutional framework surrounding the systems, while exclusive standards and technological choices have essentially been preserved from the colonial era. Current sector reform must create incentives for addressing technology choices and service standards in order to provide public water services also for the urban poor.

Keyword
governance approach, institutional framework, performance assessment, policy reform, service provision, sustainability, urban area, water management, water planning, water supply
National Category
History of Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-6366 (URN)10.1017/S0022278X07003102 (DOI)000253782400006 ()2-s2.0-38949103397 (Scopus ID)
Note

QC 20150623

Available from: 2006-11-17 Created: 2006-11-17 Last updated: 2015-06-23Bibliographically approved

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