The cost of basic service provision in developing cities

2009 à 2017
Case studies of water services across three cities

Background and issues

Between 2009 and 2012, IDDRI and IRD conducted a research programme entitled “The cost of funding urban drinking water and sanitation services in developing countries: long-term overall cost-sharing arrangements between stakeholders.” This programme aimed at studying the issues of governance and financing in the long-term.

Three empirical case studies were conducted:

  1. The urban water supply sector in Niger;

  1. The drinking water and sanitation company Société des eaux in Vientiane (Laos) conducted by GRET during a technical assistance mission led by Agence française de développement (AFD) and Syndicat des eaux d’Ile-de-France (SEDIF);

  1. The water distribution company Lyonnaise des Eaux of Casablanca (Morocco), conducted by IRD.



Carrying out empirical studies of the utility companies concerned helped to redefine the issue through inductive research and highlighted the actual modalities for the formation and sharing of costs of providing these essential services:

  • Sustainable cost recovery requires political choices regarding cost allocation among the various actors and over time, and this allocation should evolve according to the local political economy.

  • Ignoring the hidden costs due to performance inadequacies of operators and informality in the urbanisation process compromises the full, long-term equilibrium and sustainability of financing.









- 21 mars 2017, Paris 
How is the supply of basic services truly funded? Lessons from Casablanca (Morocco)

- 5 July 2016, Paris
Workshop to present key findings and discuss next steps at IDDRI

- 04-08 December 2012, Dakar
Basic services: multi-actor and territorial coordination
Panel discussion organized by the PFVT (French Alliance for Cities and Territorial Development) at AFRICITÉS

- 01-07 September 2012, Naples
Decentralisation and universal access to basic services
Networking event at the World Urban Forum

- 12-17 March 2012, Marseille
Participation in the World Water Forum


Study & syntheses

Barbier, C., Giraud, P.N., Ruet, J. & Zérah, M-H. (2007).
Access to basic services in developing countries at the heart of urban policies Analyses No. 4. Paris : Iddri

Criqui L. (2016)

How much does basic service provision really cost?
Blog Iddri

Criqui L., de Miras C. (2016)
The real cost of basic service provision and its sharing – Lessons from three developing cities. Issue brief IDDRI 09/16


Dupont, V. (2010).
Financing of urban water services in Niger
(Focales No. 4). Paris : Agence française de développement.

Leménager, M. & Naulet, F. (2015).
Financing basic services in developing country cities: what is the socio-political equation? Long-term overall cost sharing by the water distribution services of Vientiaine (Laos) 
(Études et travaux en ligne No. 44). Nogent-sur-Marne : Gret.