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Willingness to charge and willingness to pay : the World Bank-assisted China rural water supply and sanitation program (Inglês)

A decade after the international Dublin and Rio conferences of the early 1990s, where the economic value of water gained greater recognition, many developing countries have been struggling to implement higher cost recovery policies in rural water supply (RWS) programs. Even though many countries accepted the principle that the poor were willing to pay for good quality services and therefore should be charged for them, a long history of RWS subsidization posed significant challenges in implementing this policy. In China, however, during the same period and away from the fanfare of international declarations, partial user-financing in RWS had already been implemented for many years by the government. The World Bank-assisted rural water supply and sanitation lending program, which started in 1985, built on this approach and developed a very effective cost recovery policy where the users finance up to 75 percent of the capital investment as well as the full operation and maintenance (O&M) cost. Clearly, if cost recovery was the mantra of the 1990s, the Chinese were well ahead of the curve.

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