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Research Report


Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2003
Pages: 55
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 5-7)

    Private sector participation was promoted heavily in the 1990s as a means of achieving greater efficiency and coverage in the water and sanitation sector. It can be situated broadly within the set of “neoliberal” reforms, which emphasize the roles of free markets and the private sector in economic development, and advocate a limited facilitating and regulatory role for the state. In the water sector, neoliberal reformers have emphasized the economic aspects of water resources and their management. The reforms themselves have often been driven by multilateral financial institutions, with the support of bilateral development agencies. In effect, they were accepted...

  2. (pp. 8-17)

    The degree of private sector participation in different utility sectors, of which the water and sanitation sector is just one, has increased significantly since the 1980s, especially so between 1990 and 2000. The expansion of private sector involvement in water and sanitation provision has been more controversial than in other utility sectors, and this is especially so in the South, where there are concerns that private sector involvement has been undertaken in response to Northern pressure rather than through a locally driven political process. This section will summarize the debate and the issues arising from private sector participation in water...

  3. (pp. 18-34)

    Despite claims regarding the ability of the private sector to provide more efficient and higher quality services and expand provision to unserved areas, the available literature suggests that, in practice, these gains have only been realized to a limited extent. This section will outline the main private sector contractual arrangements and examine some of the key issues arising from the implementation of privatization in the water sector, including those relating to low-income groups, drawing on evidence from field studies.

    Urban water and sanitation utilities are virtually never sold off to private enterprises to use as they see fit. Only in...

  4. (pp. 35-45)

    This section will start by describing recent and current trends in the water and sanitation sector in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and will then outline the current scale and nature of private sector participation in these regions.

    In the utilities sector, private sector participation is concentrated in energy and telecommunications, while water and sanitation services have seen comparatively little privatization, especially in low-income countries.107 The water sector has been the least attractive to private investment, and the sums invested have been the smallest, representing only 5.4 per cent of all private commitments to infrastructure during the 1990s.108 The percentage...

  5. (pp. 46-47)

    Despite its prominence in current debates and policies within the water sector, only around 5 per cent of the world’s population is served by the private sector. Privatization has been limited in Africa, Asia and Latin America, both in terms of extent and benefits, although experiences in these regions have been mixed, with outcomes greatly depending on local factors. Recent trends indicate that the rate of privatization has been slowing since the late 1990s, due to a combination of underestimation of risks, overestimation of profits and problems with contracts in some cases. Despite continuing encouragement and financial support from multilateral...