Water utilities have been confronted with the conflicting mandates of expanding services to all, including low income areas (LIAs), while attaining and preserving financial sustainability. In the pursuit of striking the balance between these two, often conflicting mandates, the expansion of services in LIAs has been lagging behind. Typically, the expansion of services to these areas is associated with low collection rates, vandalism of infrastructure or unorderly urbanization. Using the case of two pro-poor units in Nakuru and Kisumu, Kenya, this research analyses the impact of these interventions in the operational performance of the utility. The utilities have been able to increase coverage while reducing non-revenue water (NRW) and improving collection efficiency. We realize, as others have earlier indicated, that these achievements are reached as the utility has opted for a differentiated level of service that prevents dwellers of LIAs accessing higher levels of services such as household connections. These interventions should not be seen as an end-state of water service provision in these areas. However, these pro-poor units seem a valid strategy for the utility to fulfil these mandates for the time being.

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