Access to water and sanitation services (WSSs) in low- or middle-income countries is constrained by the poverty and vulnerability conditions of the population. In this context, it is urgent to establish public policies for WSSs that will increase the economic access to these services so that they will be more comprehensive and comprise the entire population, ensuring a balance between social and financial objectives. This paper contributes to a better understanding of the provision of WSSs in vulnerable areas and of the difficulty in achieving universal access using Brazil as a case study. The role of regulation in the provision of WSSs in vulnerable areas and the impact of the recent institutional reform that took place last year in that country is discussed. The different experiences analyzed provide interesting lessons that contribute to the improvement of the Brazilian status quo and that, at the same time, can be good practices that can be applied in other countries. One of the main conclusions of this research is related to the contributions that regulation should provide in the universalization of WSSs, mainly when the provision of these services is ruled by a contract. Furthermore, we observed that public authorities have resigned their role in this scope and that they must be more effective and, particularly, more proactive so that universalization can be achieved.
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