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A Cup Half Full: The World Bank's Assessment of Water Privatisation

Bayliss, Kate (2011) 'A Cup Half Full: The World Bank's Assessment of Water Privatisation.' In: Bayliss, Kate and Fine, Ben and Van Waeyenberge, Elisa, (eds.), The Political Economy of Development: The World Bank, Neoliberalism and Development Research. London: Pluto Press. (In Press)

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Abstract

This chapter considers the evidence in support of water privatisation and the relationship between this and advocacy and policy. The chapter discusses empirical research in this sector in terms of two phases 13 the first in the early 2000s when privatization of infrastructure was gaining momentum, and the second in the late 2000s where support was waning in light of the challenges with implementation. A common thread running through much of this research has been an often unduly positive interpretation of the findings of the impact of privatisation. The chapter goes on to consider the elements that are missing from mainstream evaluation of water-sector policy. These include unequal initial conditions, non-economic factors in relation to access to water such as community arrangements as well as power and politics. While there are many challenges in water delivery in SSA, these are not likely to be overcome by privatization. It is clear that decades of neoliberal reforms have generated little improvement in terms of water access in the region. However, the recent crisis has strengthened commitment to private sector involvement with the World Bank providing support to protect private investment in infrastructure. The private sector is still seen as the ticket to greater efficiency - which continues to be the overriding objective for World Bank policy. The author concludes by demonstrating that the continued preoccupation with a handful of largely economic indicators will not stimulate greater access and may even be a disincentive to serve poor households. An alternative approach is required with universal coverage as a starting point.

Item Type: Book Chapters
SOAS Departments & Centres: Faculty of Law and Social Sciences > Centre for Water and Development
Faculty of Law and Social Sciences > Department of Development Studies
ISBN: 9780745331034
Depositing User: Kate Bayliss
Date Deposited: 14 Dec 2011 10:26
URI: http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/12650

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