The water supply and sanitation sectors have to compete with other infrastructure sectors and services for limited public funds. In many countries, public funds have to support a large number of diverse development programmes, some of which have a strong social orientation.
Unfortunately, even where the water supply or sanitation sectors enjoy strong political support, public funds are these days very limited, unless services deteriorate to the disaster level. This contrasts with the last century when public health engineering had a high profile because of the very poor public health conditions which existed at that time in many urban areas. The social and economic benefits that were obtained from providing safe piped water supply and sanitation were then clearly recognized.
This guidebook shows how the demands on the public purse may be reduced by greater involvement of the private sector, while still retaining public ownership of assets and also by increasing accountability for operation. Many of the concepts and approaches that are presented and discussed in the guidebook are applicable whether the utilities providing the services are within the public or private sector. The recommendations should lead to greater efficiency, transparency and better value (or reduced costs) for the chosen level of service.
Therefore, the guidebook is intended for use by staff in the water and sanitation services, in both public and private sector or a combination of both, either separately or in partnership, whether the water and sanitation services are provided by the same or by different organizations. For example, the provision of sewers and wastewater disposal is often handled by the organization that has been responsible historically for drainage facilities to remove rainwater.
In this guidebook, the term "sanitation" is used in the sense of collection, treatment and disposal of wastewater resulting from use of water drawn mainly from water supply systems, i.e. domestic sewage and industrial effluent. However, many of the approaches and techniques described could also be applied to drainage and solid waste collection and disposal services.
The guidebook describes various roles for private sector investment and involvement, demonstrates that many roles are not new and may not require radical new procedures or thinking. It suggests how the greatest overall benefits may be achieved in the future.
The guidebook describes the basic framework of the water and sanitation sectors and explains what objectives need to be achieved and how this can be organized. It then leads the reader through the processes of involving the private sector and setting up safeguards through regulation.