Access to water between urban inequalities and technical constraints – the decentralization of supply in four Uttar Pradesh municipalities

By focusing on the case of drinkable water supply in India, this paper intends to shed light on the process of decentralization that has characterized the late 20th century and on the situation of small cities, too often neglected by researchers and public authorities alike. This level of analysis is key, since it concentrates most of the future urbanizing trends, between rural exodus and metropolization. The paper suggests that the subsidiarization of water supply is difficult to implement in small municipalities whose human, technical and financial capacities remain too weak, and whose specificities are not taken into account by water policies. The analysis of four small cities of Uttar Pradesh shows that the social distance between regional engineers and local plumbers, and the constraints related to the building of the technical system contribute to explaining the difficulties of decentralized service.

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