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Digital innovations and water services in cities of the global South: A systematic literature review

Godfred Amankwaa
Global Development Institute, University of Manchester, UK; godfred.amankwaa@manchester.ac.uk

Richard Heeks
Global Development Institute, University of Manchester, UK; richard.heeks@manchester.ac.uk

Alison L Browne
Department of Geography, University of Manchester, UK; alison.browne@manchester.ac.uk

ABSTRACT: Increasing implementation of digital water innovations in cities of the Global South has been accompanied by a growth in research on this topic. This paper presents a first systematic literature review of this domain, analysing a total of 43 papers using a range of thematic categorisations. Overall profiling finds literature to be recent, limited in its engagement with theorisation or methodology, and with some disciplinary, geographic and method gaps. Research has been conservative with regards to the technologies covered, with a provider-centric, rather than a user- or government-centric leaning. Impact findings are skewed towards benefits more than disbenefits, and towards impacts on providers and users rather than towards the broader socio-environmental impacts. The paper ends by laying out a future research agenda that particularly emphasises the value of more contextualised sociotechnical and sociopolitical research.

KEYWORDS: Digital technologies, digital water innovations, urban water, Global South, systematic literature review