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Urban Water Regulation and Health: The Case of Chile  

Michael Hantke-Domas and Ronaldo Bruna

In 50 years, Chile achieved nearly full urban water and sanitation coverage—even higher than some developed countries. Furthermore, in just a decade, the country obtained full urban wastewater treatment, making it probably the only developing country that will successfully meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in this matter. These achievements can be attributed to policies oriented towards the incremental or gradual improvement of the water and sanitation sector sustained for more than 50 years. This policy was mainly focused on (a) increasing public investment in expanding coverage levels, both for potable water and sewerage; (b) reducing enteric diseases and infant mortality; (c) improving child nutrition; (d) streamlining public utilities; (e) establishing a legal framework for economic regulation applied by an independent body applicable to all utilities; (f) building efficient institutions; (g) a full cost recovery tariff policy; (h) bringing private capital into the industry; (i) subsidizing those who need it most; and (j) de-politicizing the sector. The Chilean experience is not well documented or, at least, there are few references regarding its success story, which reinforces the motivation to understand its history.