In the early 2000s, international doctrine advocated the sustainable recovery of the costs of supplying water in developing cities through a combination of taxes, tariffs and transfers. What actually happens in practice? How can these costs be distributed between users, taxpayers and public authorities? Can a balance be found to ensure a sustainable provision?

Beyond infrastructure investment needs, the sustainable provision of basic services requires a long-term vision of their financing: firstly, taking into account the costs of operation, maintenance and renewal; and secondly, defining the price and ensuring the fair distribution of the burden. However, the modalities of the formation and distribution of these costs do not correspond to the ex ante financing models. These modalities depend on the territorial conditions of service deployment, local governance, degree of decentralization, positioning of the operator, political choices regarding the servicing of impoverished neighbourhoods...

To provide tangible examples of the way in which service financing is based on a sequence of arrangements and ongoing adjustments, a researcher and a practitioner will provide a critical and pragmatic analysis of the situation regarding the extension of water, sanitation and electricity services in Casablanca, Morocco. Based on this case study, this seminar will provide an opportunity to analyse the real modalities of the funding of basic services, linked to the dynamics of urbanization, territorial planning and local governance:

What is the actual cost of service provision? What are the determinants and components of this cost: in terms of investment, but also operation and maintenance, transaction and opportunity costs? How can we integrate and anticipate the externalities and unforeseen costs of the implementation of connection projects?

Who finances what? Which decisions influence the way the responsibilities are distributed among the different actors? What are the equalization and distribution modalities of the financial burden over time?

These presentations are based on joint research by IDDRI and IRD on the total costs of basic services. The results of studies in Niger, Vientiane (Laos) and Casablanca (Morocco) have been gathered in the IDDRI Brief: The real cost of basic service provision and its sharing - lessons from three developing cities.