Demand-Side Water Strategies and the Urban Poor
Demand-side water management is typically presented as part of an integrated approach to water-resources management, correcting a historic tendency to overemphasise supply-side investment. Somewhat ironically, demand-side water management itself has come to be associated with a narrow approach that emphasises conservation and fails to address other demand-side issues. Meanwhile, especially in poor urban settlements, other demand-side approaches have been receiving increasing attention. The aim of this paper is to examine the relevance of demand-side water management to low-income urban settlements, where many households do not have adequate access to safe water supplies. The conclusion is that demand-side water strategies could play an important role and that the need to move away from a narrow supply-fix approach is just as compelling in poor as in affluent settings. However, many of the insights, priorities and tools that have come to be associated with demand-side management are inappropriate to low-income settings.