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Mapping operation and maintenance: an everyday urbanism analysis of inequalities within piped water supply in Lilongwe, Malawi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Cecilia Alda-Vidal, Michelle Kooy, Maria Rusca

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
Accepted/In press23 Jan 2017
Published24 Feb 2017


King's Authors


In this article, we analyze the production of inequalities within the centralized water supply network of Lilongwe. We use a process-based analysis to understand how urban infrastructure is made to work and explain the disparity in levels of service by tracing the everyday practices of those who operate the infrastructure. This extends existing analyses of everyday practices in relation to urban water inequalities in African cities by focusing on formal operators, rather than water users, and looking within the networked system, rather than outside it. Our findings show that these practices work to exacerbate existing water stress in poor areas of the city. We conclude with a reflection on how understanding these practices as the product of the perceptions, rationalizations, and interpretations of utility staff who seek to manage the city’s (limited) water as best they can offers insight into what is required for a more progressive urban water politics.

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