This paper focuses on the identiﬁcation and analysis of key issues that impact the governance of rural water serv ices in sub-Saharan Africa. Tanzania was selected as a representative case study. The analysis was based on a combination of relevant literature review, extensive fieldwork and action research case studies, which were carried out between 2005 and 2009. A number of weaknesses that continue undermining strategies for poverty eradication were identified at different administrative levels (from local to national): low quality of water services; lack of sustainability off constructed infrastructure; difficulties for targeting the poor; and inadequate
internal information systems. Some initiatives to overcome these challenges were piloted and implemented at the district level. Policy recomendations presented entail new paradigms for the provision of rural water supply: adoption of water supply as a service that is monitored and supported by the government; needs-based alloeation of projects at community level; and improving guidance for local government decision making are proposed.