What have we learnt

The introduction of an external service provider in a fledgling democracy may undermine an already weak local authority. The payment for services is a political issue when it comes to poor people's ability to pay. Severe credit control mechanisms to force people to pay simply backfired. Service users in this case forced the concession to its knees. Both the local authority and BiWater have learnt that the only way to salvage the concession was to change their tactics of coercion and find more democratic channels of communication, such as through the creation of a water forum. The Water Forum has become an opportunity for the service provider to cultivate greater cooperation and consent from service users. BiWater has, after five years of coercion, learnt that it must involve communities more widely in the service delivery process so that they can better understand how service delivery works, what it means to be a responsible service user and how to hold their provider accountable.

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