Almost a billion people globally lack access to potable water, without the opportunity of doing bulk water bottles. In the early 1990’s, attempts to improve potable water access in the global south included a massive push for water services privatization, often involving the transfer of public water services to private companies. Critics of water privatization claim it rarely improves access to water, and in most cases, unfairly affect poor people. Proponents on the other hand argue that it is necessary for efficient management and capital investment in the water sector. Although development NGOs play an important role in developing country water provision, hardly any studies have sought to understand their perceptions about the potential role of water privatization towards improving access to potable water in developing countries. We interviewed the key staff among 28 international and national NGO staff about water privatization, its opportunities and constraints. Their perceptions were mixed. While most criticized water privatization as increasing water costs to the poor, some noted that privatization is necessary for improving water access through increased capital investment. We present the findings and discuss larger implications for water policies and reforms in developing countries.
Ellis A. Adams *(a), Kathleen E. Halvorsen (b)
(a) Michigan State University
(b) Michigan Technological University
* Corresponding author. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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