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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Bare knuckle and better technics: trajectories of access to safe water in history and in the global south


This paper draws lessons from the history of water provision in the industrialised world, and the failure of colonial municipal water utilities, to illuminate the social, political and financial challenges facing improved urban water supply in the global south. It distinguishes four trajectories for water and sanitation access with different records of success. The paper then suggests that engineers, and the communities, NGOs, development agencies and governments for whom they work, could work more effectively if they formulated their work to fit socially, financially and politically feasible trajectories. Copyright # 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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