Off-grid distribution and sale of packaged water in precarious urban areas in developing countries: innovations at the origin of a socio-technical regime change? - Alexandre Gaudry

For many years the conventional service provision operating on the model of a central water system - the model of the so-called developed countries - has shown its limits in most cities of the so-called developing countries.

One of the problems identified in the literature is the configuration of many cities in emerging and developing countries, which are experiencing significant population growth, with most of this growth occurring in precarious areas (Deboulet, 2016). Utilities in so-called developing countries, despite support from international donors, are failing to serve the entire population equitably (Barraqué, 2005), have never been able to do so (Jaglin and Zérah, 2010 ; Jaglin 2012), and certainly will not have the capacity to do so in the future. Publications on the topic has highlighted the existence of alternative water distribution systems to the centralized network, with a strong diversity of organizational modes. These systems, grouped together under the term "off-grid" following a semantic shift in recent years, are increasingly gaining interest from donors. The World Bank sees them as an "equal partner" to the conventional grid for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (Misra and Kingdom, 2019).

 

Numerous actors - many of them from Northern countries - such as NGOs, associations, start-ups, and multinationals, are deploying these types of off-grid setups in various forms, via the creation of "micro social enterprises" that sell water in gallons, bottles (sometimes in small plastic bags), both on site and at home. They display a pro-poor discourse, a Bottom of the Pyramid market strategy, and try to promote approaches in cities of the South that fragment the urban public network, while mobilizing significant funding. Using the theoretical framework of socio-technical approaches, this thesis will study the provision of conditioned water in the slums of Dakar and Bandung, two contrasting contexts, and will ask the following question: do off-grid conditioned water distribution systems constitute innovations at the origin of a possible change in the socio-technical regime, bringing about new representations of water services in urban environments?

 

 

Key words: Water, Cities, Developing countries, Off-grid, Bottled water, Socio-technical systems, Innovation, Transition, Ecological transition

Additional Info

  • Contact:

    PhD student:  Gaudry Alexandre
    Phone : 06 50 23 41 56
    E-mail : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  • THESIS INFORMATION:

    Doctoral school: UT2J – Ecole Doctorale TESC (Temps, Espace et Société)
    Thesis Directors: Catherine Baron (LEREPS) and Marine Colon (UMR G-Eau)
    Supervisors: Catherine Baron, Marine Colon and Clément Frenoux (AFD)
    Start date: 11/10/2021
    Defense date: XX/XX/2024

  • Team(s) of Joint Research Unit concerned:

    GAP

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