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Thematic session: Beyond Subsidized Water Tariffs: Strategies for Assisting Poor through Tariff Reforms

A key strategy for adapting to changing water availability and rapid urbanization is a move towards full cost recovery tariffs for water and sanitation services.  Because these services are substantially underpriced in most places, this strategy implies that careful attention must be directed at programs to help the poor manage water affordability.  The first paper in this session describes how Chile’s innovative subsidy program has evolved since its introduction in 1990, with a specific focus on its ability to accurately target support to the poor.  The second paper reviews the global experience with “non-tariff” customer assistance programs.  The third paper examines why the poor in Cape Town, South Africa responded differently to non-price, social norm nudges than the non-poor.  The final paper reports on surveys from Kathmandu, Nepal and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where researchers asked households which type of tariff structure (increasing block or uniform volumetric) they would prefer.

Organizer(s): Dale Whittington, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Joe Cook, Washington State University

Chair: Dale Whittington, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  1. Heterogeneous responses to behavioural messages: evidence from a large-scale randomised control trial in Cape Town
    Martine Visser, Johanna Bruehl
  2. Revisiting the distributional impacts of water subsidy policy in Chile: A historical analysis from 1998-2015
    Andres Gomez-Lobo, Dante Contreras, Isidora Palma Carvajal
  3. Unraveling Households’ Preferences for Increasing Block Tariff Structures in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Kathmandu, Nepal
    Jane Zhao, Dale Whittington, Helena Cardenas
  4. A global assessment of non-tariff customer assistance programs in water supply and sanitation 
    Dale Whittington, David Fuente, Michael Matichich