This study provides an empirical report and analysis of the results of a June /July 1995 household sample survey of the four towns (Walvis Bay, Swakopmund, Arandis and Henties Bay) located in the central west coast region of Namibia. It also draws on other primary data sets, in particular 1991 census enumeration area returns and 1994/95 municipal account databases. Its aim is to establish the socioeconomic context of domestic and small business water supply for urban communities in a desert environment and a social structure deeply divided by racially based inequality. Key issues are the present rates and patterns of water consumption; water usage patterns in house and garden; watersaving practices, awareness and attitudes; and likely water consumption in responses to increases in charges. The study also assesses respondent's views on policy questions of equity and payment, in particular price and non-price methods of reducing water consumption and how to assign the cost burden of additional bulk supply infrastructure.