• Report

Do Current Water Subsidies Reach the Poor?


Foster, V., Pattanayak, S., & Prokopy, L. S. (2003). Do Current Water Subsidies Reach the Poor? (Water Tariffs & Subsidies in Southeast Asia). Washington, DC: South Asia Energy and Infrastructure Unit, World Bank.


Large scale subsidization of the water sector is typical in south Asian countries. These subsidies are typically justified in terms of the need to ensure that essential water services remain affordable to the poorest in society. There are a number of reasons for questioning whether these subsidies really benefit the poor. This analysis shows that about three quarters of the subsidies available to water utilities in the cities of Bangalore, India, and Kathmandu, Nepal, are delivered in a way which completely fails to reach the poor.