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Support for Sustainable Private Water Operators in Matola and Maputo

A small scale water operator in MaputoA small scale water operator in Maputo

Mozambique’s urban population has grown far faster than its cities have been able to accommodate, necessitating a series of short-term and unsustainable service provision solutions. Informal water service providers are called Fonctionares Privados do Agua (FPAs) and have become ubiquitous with water supply in parts of the capital, Maputo.

According to a 2010 study, these FPAs manage one-third of the water connections in the Maputo area. Typical FPAs are small private providers who invest in boreholes and small distribution networks. They are mainly found in urban and peri-urban areas that are often underserved by the water utility network. The FPAs have worked diligently and consistently for over 20 years to respond to increased consumer demand, particularly in urban areas, where FPAs are critical to service provision. However, FPAs are unregulated and no guidelines exist governing their water quality standards or tariff structures.

SUWASA supported the Government of Mozambique to develop a clear licensing and regulatory framework for informal private water service providers, called fonctionares privados do agua (FPAs), with the goal of formalizing their operations and ensuring that water quality, quantity, and overall service quality are consistent, affordable, and equitable.

SUWASA worked with the Government of Mozambique to understand the scale of FPA operations in the greater Maputo area and to develop a clear licensing and regulatory framework for FPAs along with options for transitioning to a new regulatory framework.

Approach and Achievements

Due to the complex challenge presented by multiple stakeholders, SUWASA worked with a variety of government and non-government parties to advance a regulatory framework for FPAs. SUWASA began by working with all key stakeholders to gain clarity on FPA operational issues through an umbrella regulatory advisory group, Grupo Consultativo de Regulação (GCR), which was created by SUWASA and the DNA. Next, SUWASA provided technical assistance in the development of a regulatory, licensing, and transitioning framework for the FPAs. This began by conducting a detailed survey of the FPAs, their operations, and customers. Then, SUWASA mapped the survey results in a geo-referenced database to provide stakeholders with a user-friendly tool for rapidly assessing the scope and status of communities served by FPAs.

Finally, SUWASA provided support for implementing the regulatory and licensing framework through the development of a communications strategy. Key achievements of the reform process included the following.

Comprehensive FPA data baseline completed

When SUWASA began, the most current information available on FPAs was a survey conducted in 2010, which concluded that a third of the total house connections in greater Maputo were on FPA networks. SUWASA conducted a follow-up inventory of FPAs in 2013, to measure the growth and scale of private water providers and their role in water services.

Using some of the latest technology—including iBuilder, Google Maps, and tablets devices—SUWASA successfully carried out a survey of FPAs that included data on coverage, types of operations, geographic location, and levels of service. A total of 816 FPAs were surveyed, representing 50 percent of total water connections for greater Maputo. The SUWASA survey established the rapid growth of FPAs since 2010 and highlighted the fact that informal private water providers could no longer be ignored from a regulatory perspective, given their significant role in water service provision for the capital.

Consensus among stakeholders on formalization of FPA operations

Several key stakeholders were originally opposed to formalizing the role of FPAs through licensing and regulation. Previous government initiatives to bring the FPAs into a formalized environment did not succeed, due in part to a lack of understanding of the scale and dynamics of FPA water provision. After SUWASA helped establish the regulatory advisory group (GCR), the group worked to clarify FPA challenges and issues, as well as, supported the development of a licensing and regulatory framework with increased backing among key stakeholders. Graphical presentation of the FPA survey results—on geo-referenced maps of communities in the survey areas—greatly facilitated understanding and consensus among members of the regulatory advisory group.

Regulatory and licensing framework developed

SUWASA carried out a comprehensive review of the existing regulatory framework for urban water services; analyzed the legal basis and options for licensing and regulating informal categories of service providers; and identified the key issues and obstacles associated with each option. Finally, the project identified the principles to be applied and determined institutional options and conditions for implementing a licensing and regulatory scheme for the FPAs.


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