Most people who live in cities and large towns throughout much of the developing world occupy neighbourhoods and informal settlements that do not have adequate water services. In fact, evidence suggests that more than 75 per cent of the urban poor obtain domestic water from sources other than a direct-piped mains supply. Is it time we looked at the positive alternative role which independent small-scale water providers play in meeting these people's needs?
In many cities of the developing world, the water supply distribution network does not extend to the informal settlements of the poor, and these inhabitants rely on small water-providing enterprises (SWEs) to bring their water to them. This article arises out of ongoing research into SWEs and describes how SWEs operate in Khartoum, Sudan. Water customers there pay a considerable portion of their income to SWEs, but the rates charged by SWEs are reasonable considering the costs involved and seem to be competitive. The research aims to identify and test strategies that could enable SWEs to deliver a more acceptable water service to poor urban consumers by building partnerships between SWEs and water utilities, based on mutual benefits.
Market mapping is an approach to describe the market systems involving small-scale producers: the value chain, together with support services and the business environment affecting the chain. This article describes a participatory approach to market-chain development that has evolved around market mapping processes, with the example given of the market map for aloe in Kenya. Practical Action has found a number of processes are effective in ensuring positive engagaement and outcomes. For example, 'market opportunity groups' are formed to represent and empower producers, enabling them to negotiate with other market chain actors with greater confidence. Interest forums, on the other hand, include decision-makers with influence at local, national and sometimes international levels. Four short case studies of market-chain development work in Zimbabwe, Kenya, Peru and Sudan are presented, which demonstrate how these elements can assist in participatory market-chain analysis, making the move from analysis to action more effective.
Until recently, understanding markets and the challenges of market development were not prominent issues for agencies involved in emergencies and disaster response. This is now changing. Humanitarian organizations are recognizing that local markets can play a vital role in efficiently supplying critical goods or services to ensure people's survival, and protect their livelihoods, in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. Moreover, they are realizing that market systems matter to emergency-affected populations, who depend on them for income and inputs during times of crisis and beyond.