Water service to the urban poor presents challenges to political leaders, regulators and managers. We identify technology mixes of yard taps, public water points (with and without pre-paid meters) to meet alternative constraints, and reflecting populations served and investment requirements. Three investment scenarios have different implications for improving water access to over 400,000 citizens in Kampala. One component, pre-paid water meters, can promote social equity and institutional sustainability. If procedural justice is given as much weight as distributive justice in the selection of pro-poor programs, pre-paid meters (the ultimate cost recovery tool) can have a place in the investment plan. The study examines how public stand pipes (and a combination of other options) can meet both financial constraints and social objectives. Financial considerations cannot be wished away when seeking effective strategies for achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
Keywords: Africa, Cost recovery, Pre-paid meters, Pro-poor connections, Uganda, Water utility optimisation