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New WaSH Policy Research Digest: Water Tariffs and Subsidies

23 Jan 2017


The Water Institute at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (USA) has published the fifth edition of their WaSH Policy Research Digest series. This time, the focus is on the link between water tariffs and subsidies.

Key Takeaways

  • Increasing block tariffs do not perform well in delivering subsidies to low-income households.
  • Poor performance of increasing block tariffs in terms of equitable subsidy distribution is due to a number of factors, including a low correlation between water use and income, and less than full cost recovery through the tariff.
  • Policy-makers need to explore alternatives to the lifeline block of an increasing block tariff in order to ensure all users have access to affordable water.


The Digests are intended to be an easy-to-access knowledge and information resource, helping users navigate the myriad of (often cumbersome, and sometimes conflicting) research journals and publications to extract relevant policy advice.

Published quarterly, the Digests comprises a review of a recent article or report, and a short literature review on a WaSH topic. It provides objective, concise, and timely information to advise WaSH policy development.

Download Issue #5, December 2016: Water tariffs and subsidies.

Subscribe to future editions here.