I am grateful to the Regional Studies Association and its members for supporting my participation in the African Centre for Cities (ACC) International Urban Conference. The conference was held at the University of Cape Town on the 1st to 3rd of February 2018 and celebrated the tenth anniversary of the ACC.
My presentation was part of the session: Urban political ecologies, working infrastructures organized by Nate Millington (University of Cape Town) and Kathleen Stokes (University of Manchester). The presentation was based on a paper I co-authored with Michelle Kooy and Maria Rusca, Mapping operation and maintenance: an everyday analysis of inequalities within piped water supply in Lilongwe, Malawi (https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02723638.2017.1292664)
The presentation explored the production of different service levels within the networked water supply system in Lilongwe, Malawi. As in many other cities, in Lilongwe, a connection to the water network does not ensure that water will run when one opens the tap. While some users receive water round-the-clock, those located in the Low Income Areas of the city frequently face intermittent supply or lack of water for up to 4-5 days. To explain this situation we follow the engineers and operators of the water utility as they conduct daily operational and maintenance work and show how their routines and decisions contribute to produce a highly differentiated service. Inequalities in water distribution are produced and maintained not only through the construction of infrastructure but through its daily operation and maintenance and reflect and reproduce other inequalities within the city.
The conference was a very inspiring event that achieved to be both critical and propositional as it intended. I had the opportunity to attend excellent sessions and learn from the work other scholars are doing on southern urbanisms. The conference was very well organized, engaging, and offered plenty of opportunities to meet new friends and to discuss our work.