This paper uses a social practices lens to examine water management practices of households in Addis Ababa and Dar es Salaam, their drivers and opportunities for change and discusses how far these practices fit into a sustainable urban water management agenda in an urban African context. The paper is based on interviews and workshops with inhabitants in two case sites as well as city stakeholders. In both cities the official discourse is the development and extension of universal conventional centralised water systems. However these are malfunctioning systems co-existing with various decentralised household water management practices. One challenge is how to complement the resource-intensive modern infrastructure ideal with low-technology, green infrastructure-based approaches. Another is how to change the discursive framings of existing decentralised practices from disqualification as ‘rural’ practices unfit for the urban. Finally, as developing cities purse sustainable development goals it is necessary to strengthen the ability of the urban water regime to support co-production and decentralised water management activities whilst reconfiguring those elements of practices that are inherently unsustainable.
- African cities
- Social practices
- Sustainable urban water management
- Water management practices