Changes are proposed to improve urban water supply systems around the globe. Improvement in service delivery mechanisms, institutional efficiency, financial viability and acceptance by users are the key criteria for initiating and sustaining a change. To improve the situation of water supply in Karachi, Pakistan, advised by the World Bank, a private sector participation (PSP) strategy was formed during the 1990s. The strategy aimed to promote a gradual increase of PSP in water and sanitation services. The proposed project faced strong resistance from stakeholders, mainly civil society, leading to its suspension. Efforts are being made to revive the PSP and to make it acceptable to the stakeholders concerned. The paper documents and analyses the stakeholders response to the anticipated PSP process and the possible social and economic impacts. The study makes a contribution in the areas of participation and consensus building in the context of PSP. Willingness to negotiate continuously and even consideration of possible alternatives based on the changing situations are the key to any way forward for sustainable improvements.

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