Political economy of water and sanitation policy in developing countries

Review of Week 2 of Water Supply and Sanitation Policy in Developing Countries Part 1: Understanding Complex Problems (University of Manchester, Coursera)

The lectures started off by saying that people in the water and sanitation sector were ‘full of passion but short of strategy’, something that I tend to agree with. Water and sanitation is complex, and you can’t address the situation without understanding the root causes. Developing a careful description of the problem will give insights into the solution.

The lectures focused a lot on corruption, and Prof Whittington gave six reasons why corruption is a particular problem for water and sanitation. The reason I probably agree with the most in this context is price in-elasticity of demand for water. In my mind, this reduces the bargaining power of customers to negotiate a fair price, allowing service providers and related stakeholders to take advantages.

The studies on corruption were interesting. However, the latest paper cited was from 2004. I’d be interested to see if there were any more recent studies as I would assume that situations would have evolved, at least in some countries, due to changes in political and economic situations, technologies and so on.



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