INTERNATIONAL WORKSHOP

Opportunities and challenges facing public-private partnerships in the provision of water supply and sanitation in developing areas (PUPRIWAS)

VENUE

The Oxford Centre for the Environment, Ethics and Society (OCEES)
Mansfield College, Oxford

10-11 July 2000

ORGANIZER

School of Geography and the Environment
University of Oxford

Co-ordinator:
Dr José Esteban Castro

Sponsors:
Oxford Centre for Brazilian Studies, Oxford
Centro Europeo di Studi sulla Democratizzazione (CESDE)
Coordenção de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES), Ministério da Educação do Brasil
Secretary of Science and Technique, University of Buenos Aires
Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO) – Mexico
The Oxford Centre for Water Research
Latin American Centre, Oxford

Workshop Programme:

deNote: The following programme lists only the papers that were presented at the meeting. Owing to funding restrictions, not all the participants could attend the meeting in person. All the abstracts are listed below, and some of the papers are available for downloading in Documents.


10 July 2000

Session I. Needs, challenges and opportunities for water management in developing countries.

Dr Osmo Seppala and Dr Jarmo Hukka, Tampere University of Technology (TUT), Institute of Water and Environmental Engineering (IWEE).

Title: Public-private partnerships: technical challenges and opportunities.

This paper was presented by Dr. Jouni Pavoola

Session II. Preliminary lessons from case studies.

Mexico:

Dr Fernando Saavedra Peláez, Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO Mexico) – Consejo Nacional de Población (CONAPO).

Title: Management of water resources in Mexico: lessons from the Pacific Basin.

Dr María Luisa Torregrossa Armentia, Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO Mexico) - Adviser to the Comission of Science and Technology, Federal Congress (Mexico).

Title: Social and institutional transformations in the forms of management and administration of water in Mexico. A comparative study of four cities in the Pacific Basin.

Brazil:

Dr. Marcelo Coutinho Vargas, Department of Social Sciences, Federal University of São Carlos.

Title: Decentralisation, privatisation, regulation: recent transformations in the delivery of water and sanitation services in Brazil.

Dr. Ricardo Toledo Silva, Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism, University of São Paulo (USP).

Title: The public-private interface in the management of urban infrastructure networks: the case of water services in São Paulo.

This paper was presented by Dr Joel Outtes.

11 July 2000:

Dr Erik Swyngedouw

Reader in Economic Geography, School of Geography and the Environment

Title: Water, city and social power.

Session II. Preliminary lessons from case studies - Latin America (continued).

Argentina:

Mr. Emilio Ariel Crenzel, Institute of Research in Social Sciences "Gino Germani" (IICS), Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Buenos Aires (UBA) – National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (INDEC).

Title: Social structure, living standards and access to water services in the Great Buenos Aires Metropolitan Area during the 1990s.

Bolivia:

Dr Nina Laurie, Lecturer in Development, Dept. of Geography, Newcastle University

Title: User identity in the Cochabamba water conflict in Bolivia

Mr Carlos O. Crespo Flores
CESU-UMSS, University of San Simón
Cochabamba, Bolivia
School of Planning, Oxford Brookes University

Title: La guerra del agua: nuevos movimientos sociales y crisis de dispositivos del poder

Session III. Discussing a framework for the research proposal (closed session).

WORKSHOP PARTICIPANTS

Project Coordination

Director

Dr Neil Summerton CB
The Oxford Centre for Water Research
Mansfield College
Oxford OX1 3TF
UNITED KINGDOM

Tel.: +44 (0) 1865 270886
E-mail: neil.summerton@mansf.ox.ac.uk

Project Coordinator

Dr José Esteban Castro
Research Associate,
School of Geography and the Environment
St Antony’s College
Oxford OX2 6JF
UNITED KINGDOM

E-mail: esteban.castro@social-studies.ox.ac.uk

Research Fellow

Dr Jouni Paavola
Oxford Centre for the Environment Ethics and Society (OCEES)
Mansfield College
Oxford OX1 3TF
UNITED KINGDOM

Tel + 44 (0)1865 282 906
Fax + 44 (0)1865 270 886
E-mail: jouni.paavola@mansf.ox.ac.uk

Participants

Dr Erik Swyngedouw
School of Geography and the Environment
St Peter’s College
Oxford OX1 2DL

Tel.: +44 (0)1865 271901
E-mail: erik.swyngedouw@geography.oxford.ac.uk

Dr María Luisa Torregrossa Armentia
Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO)
Carretera al Ajusco # 337 (km. 1.5)
Col. Héroes de Padierna
C. P. 14200, México, D. F.
MEXICO

Tel. + 52 (5) 631 7016 / 631 7246
Fax: + 52 (5) 631 6609
E-mail: mltorre@flacso.flacso.edu.mx
armentia@servidor.unam.mx

Dr Fernando Saavedra Peláez
Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO)
Carretera al Ajusco # 337 (Km. 1.5)
Col. Héroes de Padierna
C. P. 14200, México, D. F.
MEXICO

Tel. + 52 (5) 631 7016 / 631 7246
Fax: + 52 (5) 631 6609
E-mail: saave@flacso.flacso.edu.mx

Mr. Emilio Ariel Crenzel,
Institute of Research in Social Sciences "Gino Germani" (IICS),
Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Buenos Aires (UBA)
– National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (INDEC).
Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA)
Uriburu 950, 6to piso
(1114) - Buenos Aires, ARGENTINA

E-mail: ecrenzel@criba.edu.ar
ecren@indec.mecon.gov.ar

Dr. Marcelo Coutinho Vargas
Departamento de Ciências Socias
Universidade Federal de São Carlos
Via Washington Luís, Km 235- C.P. 676
13565-905 - São Carlos, SP, BRAZIL

E-mail: vargasm@sti.com.br

Dr Joel Outtes
Oriel College, University of Oxford,
Oxford OX1 4EW

E-mail: Joel.outtes@oriel.ox.ac.uk

Dr Nina Laurie
Department of Geography
Newcastle University
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE1 7RU

E-mail: Nina.Laurie@ncl.ac.uk

Mr Carlos O. Crespo Flores
CESU-UMSS, University of San Simón
Cochabamba, Bolivia
School of Planning, Oxford Brookes University

E-mail: 98088207@brookes.ac.uk

Mr Herminio Martins
St Antony’s College, Oxford

E-mail: herminio@talk21.com

Mr Philip Turton
National Water Demand Management Centre
Environment Agency, UK

E-mail: PTurton@compuserve.com

Dr Miguel Solanes
Regional Adviser in Water Law and Regulation of Public Services
Environment and Development Division
UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC)
Member of the Technical Advisory Committee, Global Water Partnership

E-mail: msolanes@eclac.cl

Dr Ricardo Toledo Silva
Núcleo de Pesquisas em Informações Urbanas,
Universidade de São Paulo, FAU.
Rua do lago, 876. Cidade Universitária A.S.O.,
05508-900 - São Paulo, BRAZIL

E-mail: ritsilva@usp.br

Dr. Tapio S. Katko
Tampere University of Technology (TUT)
Institute of Water and Environmental Engineering (IWEE)
Tampere, FINLAND

E-mail: katko@cc.tut.fi

Osmo Seppala, MSc(Civ.Eng.)
Tampere University of Technology (TUT)
Institute of Water and Environmental Engineering (IWEE)
Tampere, FINLAND

E-mail: seppala@cc.tut.fi

Jarmo Hukka
Tampere University of Technology (TUT)
Institute of Water and Environmental Engineering (IWEE)
Tampere, FINLAND

E-mail: jarmo.hukka@cc.tut.fi

Ms Carmen Ledo G.
CESU-UMSS, University of San Simón
Cochabamba – Bolivia
Delft University of Technology
Faculty of Architecture, Spatial Planning Section
The Hague, NETHERLANDS

E-mail: c.ledo@bk.tudelft.nl

Mr Giorgos Kallis
Environmental Planning Laboratory
Department of Environmental Studies
University of the Aegean
Athens, GREECE

E-mail: enpl@env.aegean.gr

Dr Ezekiel Nyangeri Nyanchaga
University of Nairobi
Department of Civil Engineering
Nairobi, KENYA

E-mail: nyangeri@arcc.or.ke

Prof. Damas Alfred Mashauri
University of Dar es Salaam
Department of Civil Engineering
Dar es Salaam, TANZANIA

E-mail: head_ce@ce.udsm.ac.tz

Dr José Luis García
Instituto de Ciências Sociais
Universidade de Lisboa
Lisbon, PORTUGAL

E-mail: jlog@mailhost.ics.ul.pt

JLGarcia@ics.ul.pt

WORKSHOP ABSTRACTS

Emilio Ariel Crenzel
M. A. in Social Science Research
Instituto de Investigaciones Gino Germani
Universidad de Buenos Aires

"Access to the water services: social territories and citizenship rights in the Great Buenos Aires"

During the 1990s Argentina underwent a rapid and comprehensive process of privatisation in the sector of public services, including water and sewerage. This paper focuses on the main changes introduced in the access to potable water and sewerage services in the Great Buenos Aires since the privatisation. In particular, it highlights the interactions between these transformations and the forms of social struggle over citizenship rights in the social territories affected by the privatisation policies. The relevance of this case for our research strategy is very clear: the social space defined in our study includes about one third of the country’s population, while in political terms it also concentrates a similar proportion of the national electorate. In addition, the area also clusters the key economic activities of the country, especially in the industrial sector. As part of our initial approach, we provide a description of the situation with regard to the access to the services of potable water and sewerage, based on census data from the early 1990s, prior to the launching of the privatisation process in the Great Buenos Aires. Our research strategy is part of a wider tradition of socio-demographic research that, based on rigorous theoretical and empirical grounds, has challenged during the last decade the juridical-administrative discourse that has dominated the official debate about the conurbated areas of Buenos Aires. In particular, we propose to analyse the heterogeneities arising from the concrete social characteristics of this territory, which have been lost in the official discourse that gives centrality to the juridical-administrative dimensions with almost complete disregard for socio-economic and political cleavages. With this purpose, our paper attempts to identify different social territories in the area on the basis of what we called the ‘predominant social conditions of existence’ of the population. Among other empirical indicators and conceptual dimensions, we highlight the unequal forms and intensities prevailing in the access to urban water and sewerage.

Dr Jarmo J. Hukka, Senior Research Engineer, TUT/IWEE
Mr Osmo Seppälä, Senior Research Engineer, TUT/IWEE

"PPP: Technical challenges and opportunities"

The paper discusses technicalities and aspects related to various public-private partnership modes and contracts. The main options for private sector participation (Figure 1) can be categorised according to how they allocate responsibility for such issues as asset ownership and capital investment between the public and private sectors. In practice, options might also be used in combination – for example, a build-operate-transfer (BOT) contract for bulk water supply might be combined with a management or lease contract for operating the distribution system. Water supply and sewerage systems are a natural and technical monopoly, which is caused by the nature of required investment and technical systems. It is not feasible to construct several parallel networks and facilities in the same service area. In UK, the common carriage principle aims at creating ‘artificial competition’ through allowing competitive service producers access to common water and wastewater networks without duplication of infrastructure. Common carriage has several areas of concern. These include protection of water quality, liability issues, emergency procedures, supply security in terms of pressure and flow rates, access charges, metering and leakage. The role of the public sector is changing increasingly also in developing countries. Central government is adopting the role of a policy maker, facilitator of an enabling policy environment and regulator. The public sector is delegating service production more to the private sector. In Finland and many other EU countries successful public-private partnerships have been implemented through managed competition of the various support services. Core operations of water utility remain in public ownership and operation, but private companies on competitive bidding basis produce non-core operations (Figure 2). Vertical competition ensures more efficiency than vertical integration. Continuous competition for non-core services is preferable over one-time competition for monopoly of entire services. It is estimated that in Finland about 40-60 % of the annual expenditure of water utilities consists of private sector services. Under a public-private partnership, a contractual arrangement is formed between public- and private-sector partners. The contract can include a variety of activities that involve the private sector in the development, financing, ownership, and operation of a public facility or service. In a PPP project the overall risk can be split into a number of separate identifiable risks. Some of the risks can clearly be passed to the private sector (e.g. construction risk, design risk, operational risk, and financial risk). Some of the risks must be retained by the public entity (e.g. risk of legislative change), and some risks are open to debate (e.g. planning risk, risk of public protest, risk of insufficient revenues). Usually the extent of the risk transferred will determine the profit sought by the private sector. The risk-profit characteristics of any PPP project can be tailored to the particular project and the requirements of the participants in the project. In the proposed research project experiences will be analysed from actual PPP projects on e.g. the contractual arrangements and their actual implementation regarding risk allocation, profit gains, customer obligations etc. Public-private partnerships can promote efficiency and effectiveness. Privatisation of water services has commonly been justified with greater efficiency and effectiveness. Public water utilities have been labelled as inefficient and ineffective. Yet, assessing the efficiency and effectiveness depends completely on the criteria used. If transaction costs are fully taken into account, efficiency and economic performance will have a different perspective. Economic and technical (operational) efficiency is only a narrow measurement of the performance and viability of the water utility. The only relevant and objective way to assess the performance of the public organisation is to measure how well it can meet the set goals and objectives. Generally in public water utilities, objectives are based on enhancing operating efficiency and long-term viability, putting emphasis on full cost recovery instead of profit maximisation. The quality of the service to customers, health and environmental considerations are generally very important for public water utilities.

Nina Laurie
Department of Geography
Newcastle University
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE1 7RU

E-mail: Nina.Laurie@ncl.ac.uk

"User identity in the Cochabamba water conflict in Bolivia"

In April of this year Aguas de Tunari, an international water consortium whose main share holder was UK based, withdrew from a 40-year concession it had recently been granted in the city of Cochabamba, Bolivia. For many in Cochabamba this withdrawal marks the end of a long water conflict which has become one the most successful social movements the city has known. On a wider scale, it seems to be one of the few examples of successful grassroots resistance against attempts to liberalise water markets in countries of the South. This paper focuses on the user representations mobilised in the Cochabamba conflict and highlights the failure of the water consortium to conceptualise these actors adequately. The paper argues that seemingly rural and indigenous representations are currently playing an important role in contemporary urban water conflicts. It highlights some of the dangers associated with the politics involved with these representations by suggesting that the strategic essentialisms they employ have the potential to set up new social exclusions and marginalise the interests of the poorest members of society. The paper argues that users and users identities must be taken seriously by utilities if dialogue over water liberalisation is to be achieved. Conceptualisations of users in the Andes need to move beyond dichotomous constructions of rural and urban and modern and traditional identities if this dialogue is to produce sustainable management strategies.

Dr Marcelo Coutinho Vargas
Universidade Federal de São Carlos,
Departamento de Ciências Sociais
Via Washington Luís, km 235- C.P. 676
13565-905 - São Carlos, SP, Brazil

Email: vargasm@sti.com.br

Decentralization, privatization, regulation. Recent transformations in the provision of water and sanitation services in Brazil

This paper aims to analyse the historical roots and the social consequences of the institutional changes that are taking place in water and sanitation services management and regulation in Brazil, since the late years of the 80’s decade. Characterized by the strengthening of decentralization, progressive "privatization" and deep rearrengement of the juridical and administrative apparatus for sector’s regulation, these changes are simultaneously determined by internal and external factors. The internal factors adress the crisis and the institutional heritage of the centralized and verticalized services management model that prevailed during the military rule, and focus the analysis on the propositions for sector’s institutional rearrengement that were brought up by the country’s redemocratization, mostly after the promulgation of the 1988 Federal Constitution. The external factors reflect the alignment of federal government with political and economical trends of the so-called post-industrial society: on one hand, the political and ideological hegemony of neoliberal theses (that propose State reform, the opening and deregulation of national markets, the end of state monopolies and the privatization of state-owned enterprises); on the other hand, the globalization of the capitalist economy. The particular situation of water and sanitation in Brazil reflects the strong resistance of this sector’s organized interest groups against governmental attempts to transfer the services provision to private companies, reserving to the State only the regulatory functions.

Prof. Damas Alfred Mashauri and Mr. Sixtus Kayombo
University of Dar es Salaam,
Department of Civil Engineering,
P.O.Box 35131 Dar es Salaam
Tanzania

E-mail: head_ce@ce.udsm.ac.tz

"Operational model of Public-Private Partnership in the provision of water supply and sanitation in Tanzania"

Many rapid expanding cities in low and lower middle income countries experience poor service coverage and inadequate water supplies and sanitation services both in urban and rural areas. The quantities of water supplied in urban areas do not meet the basic need for the communities. The government has not managed to satisfy the requirement based on quality and quantity. Since independence water supply in urban and rural areas was run by the government with the target of saving enough and safe water to all Tanzanian by 1974 which was changed to 1991 latest. Many water supply projects in Tanzania have failed to satisfy the demand due to many reasons ranging from lack of proper operation, poor revenue collection to simple mismanagement.

Population increase in urban areas is not in parallel with water supply and sanitation services. Example in Tanzania a city of DSM with a population of 3 million people and the growth rate of 7% needs 410,000m3/day. The current production of water is 273000m3/day and a loss of 60% the water deficit is about 137,000m3/day. Unaccountable for water of 60% daily is due to leakage caused by lack of maintenance. The consumers resist paying higher water tariffs because they receive unreliable services and private investors will not invest money to improve those services until there is substantial increase in revenue from water tariffs. The sanitation coverage (sewerage) in urban areas is only 10% of the population. The problems we are trying to solve are operational efficiency, substantial increase in service coverage and improvement on quality needed.

The lesson from the past is that the government alone can not manage to sufficiently provide water and sanitation to acceptable level, then association of the Private Sector Participation (PSP) in water and sanitation appear to be the best option if and only if a proper management and operational model is set and properly followed. In this model the government is given a role of supervision (Quality Assurance), while the PSP are the implementers at large. Hence the PSP should be based on partnership between the PSP and Public Sector (PS). Regulatory and legal framework should provide support to private sector so that it will be willingly take the commercial risk. Stakeholder (employees, consumers, and environmental) should be motivated to support private sector. One of the major issues in privatization of utilities is how should a private sector be regulated. Most economists argue that free market with no regulations is the best options. Real life cases see issues otherwise especially where there is market failure. There is more market failure in water than in other utilities.

Such reform from public ownership of services to partnership with PSP requires a clear model for operation and measurement of achievements. The proposed model include stakeholders, public sector, and PSP as the system variable while technology, quality to be achieved, quantity, and finance as forcing functions to the achievement of the goal set. The model also gives the appropriate mode of tariff collection and the best management to be achieved for water supply and sanitation in urban areas of Tanzania. The model is based on the operational problems on water supply and sanitation services in urban areas in Tanzania. The government should take management at the lowest possible level. While for the private sector will be based on investment efficiency. The expected main question will be will the tariffs be affordable by the communities. On the other hand the investors will ask from the different angle that will the tariff cover the investment cost.

Eng. Dr. E. Nyangeri Nyanchaga,
Lecturer,
Department of Civil Engineering,
University of Nairobi,
Kenya

"Needs, challenges and opportunities for Water Management in Africa: the Kenyan experience"

The management of water sector activities in the country is currently regulated through the Water Act Cap 372 of the laws of Kenya. There are, however, other statutes, which touch on water sector affairs for example Public Health Act, Agriculture Act, Forest Act, and Land Act among others. It has been observed that these statutes have not been able to serve the interests of the water sector competently. The need to improve the management systems of providing water services in urban areas in Kenya is now apparent and urgent. What is clear is that commercialisation and private sector participation is the way forward as the Government has not been able to and for sometime might not be able to allocate enough financing for the development of water services to meet the set targets.

The current trend of Commercialisation and Public/Private partnership in the water sector is not a new concept in the country as it can be traced back to the colonial days when several institutions participated in the management of the water systems. Apart from the Water Department which was responsible for managing most public water utilities, the Government had also registered a number of public and private institutions to participate as water undertakers among them, local councils.

In the Sessional Paper No.1 of 1986, the Kenya Government declared its intention to have beneficiaries of Government initiated development play a greater role in their management. It has become apparent right from the Sessional Paper that the Government should start moving away from the water sector as operators and only play the role of policy maker and regulator. According to World Water (1998), the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources plans to hand over more than 500 water utilities throughout the country to the private sector and public institutions. The ministry intends to retain the roles of co-ordination and policy making in the water sector. In that context, the ministry is in the process of working out appropriate policy framework focusing the establishment of legal and institutional framework for the water sector to facilitate commercialisation and privatisation of the water services among other issues.

Private sector participation is possible only where there exist proper articulated policies. The newly launched National Water Policy (1998) does not precisely address commercialisation and private sector participation in urban water. While the Ministry has been publicly stating its support for commercialisation and private sector participation, this is not part of the documented policy. Further, the current policy framework does not mention the intention of creating the appropriate institutional structures on which effective private sector participation is founded. Nor does it specifically state the institutional framework into which the transfer of the services will be made.

Some type of regulatory framework is necessary to monitor and control the private sector operations. Private sector participation does not mean that the public sector loses control, but rather that it adopts a new division of tasks between public and private partners, base on the comparative advantage of each. An appropriate regulatory framework must be in place before commercialisation and private sector participation in the water sector can become universally effective.

It is recognised that the Water Act will be the principal Act for water resources management issues. Failure to harmonise properly the Water Act with other Acts may be a major hindrance to the PSP process. The legislative framework nevertheless is made very clear that even with the establishment of a new regulatory framework, the problem of the poor implementation of the Water Act and its related acts and regulations must be addressed.

The intended workshop paper in the needs, challenges and opportunities for water management based on the Kenyan experiences shall review the existing policy and indicate areas where the policy must be revised. To give workable proposals for Kenya, a thorough and incisive paper shall be prepared on the existing institutional framework of the water sector. This will be compared to alternative models elsewhere for awareness debate during the workshop and eventual selection and/or adoption. The paper shall mainly focus on practical urban case studies by addressing the pertinent issues related to the following:

1. The present and future of the Private Sector Participation in Urban Water Sector in Kenya

2. National Water Policy and Urban Water Supplies in Kenya

3. Institutional issues in Commercialisation and Private Sector Participation of Urban Water services in Kenya

4. Regulatory and legislative framework for Private Sector Participation (PSP) options in the Urban Water Sector in Kenya

Dr. Fernando Saavedra Peláez
Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales
FLACSO Mexico

"Problems of availability and scarcity of water resources in México"

Since the 1970s, water resources have been included in a more integrated fashion in the analyses of environmental problems. To a large extent, this has reflected the increasing awareness about the fact that the survival of ecosystems and societies depend on the adequate management of water resources. The 1980s introduced a significant change in the way water management was conceived. Until then, the dominant model was that of supply-oriented water management designed to meet consumption patterns, which was based in the permanent search for new resources. The new model emerging from the changes introduced proposes a different approach, which is based on demand management practices and seeks to satisfy consumption within the limits of the available water resources. In this connection, the model of sustainable development being formally promoted since 1992 starts from the assumption that ecological sustainability depends on freshwater, which is an increasingly scarce finite resource.

In Mexico, the patterns of use, consumption and management of water have been determined by the long-standing transformations affecting demographic and urban development and the distribution of the labour force. The Mexican population grew from about 27 million people in 1950 to the current 100 million, while the fertility rate decreased from 6.6 to 2.4 average children per woman in the same period. Similarly, infant mortality dropped from 126.6 to 24.9 per thousand since 1950, while life expectancy increased from 49.6 to 75.3 years in the same period. The population living in cities grew from 11 million to about 65 million, and today in 21 out of the 32 federal states over 50 per cent of the population is urban. Meanwhile, the population economically active in agriculture has been halved since 1950.

In general, 76 per cent of water consumption in Mexico is allocated to agriculture, with 17 per cent being used for public consumption in the cities and 5 per cent in industrial uses. Although water availability is relatively high in comparative terms (4583 m3/per capita/per year), the trend is towards increasing scarcity. In this respect, the main problems are related to the uneven territorial distribution of water, the irregularities in rainfall patterns and quality, and the inequalities in the access to water. The territorial distribution of the population is characterised by the concentration in cities and areas of the country where water availability is very low. 60 per cent of the country’s runoff occurs in 20 per cent of the territory, where only 9 per cent of the population lives. In contrast, there are 171 cities located in places 1000 metres above sea level, where 68 per cent of the urban population is concentrated. This requires the use of costly systems of conveyance and pumping to supply water to these cities. Unsurprisingly, 51 out of the most important 129 cities in the country currently suffer water deficits, and is estimated that in the next few years the number will be increased to 70. Only 20 among these cities present a favourable water balance. Understandably, urban development will be increasingly dependent by water supply, which poses technical, financial and social challenges. Access to water in the cities is mediated by the functional and social segregation of the urban space, which favours the uneven development of the supply networks. These problems are frequently exacerbated by the inequalities in the socio-economic characteristics of the users, the application of the tariff system, and the introduction of technological innovations.

Dr Miguel Solanes
Regional Adviser in Water Law and Regulation of Public Services,
Environment and Development Division,
UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC)

Member of the Technical Advisory Committee, Global Water Partnership.

"Water rights and regulation of the water sector in Latin America and the Caribbean: recent developments and prospects"

The paper is based in a comprehensive study on water law and regulation in Latin America and the Caribbean carried out jointly by the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the Interamerican Development Bank (IDB). Among other topics, the study covers 1) the organization of regulatory systems; 2) forms of water ownership; 3) types of water rights; 4) water planning and information; 5) protection of the public interest; and 6) water management. The regional water sector is undergoing significant transformations, in particular through the incorporation of the private sector and the corresponding separation of the water services and their regulatory systems.

The paper explores: 1) the incorporation and adaptation of the Dublin Principles (in particular, economic efficiency, ecological sustainability, equity, efficacy, and balance) in Latin America through the San José and Buenos Aires Declarations, and 2) the recent policies of legal and institutional reform of the water sector in selected countries, including Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, United States, Jamaica, and Mexico. It also puts forward criteria for the analysis and elaboration of water legislation and regulation in the region. The main claim is that the incorporation of the Dublin Principles in the Latin American water law and regulatory systems requires: 1) taking into account economic laws; 2) institutional development; 3) decentralization; 4) dissemination of information and user’s education; and 5) the democratization of water management. In addition, water legislation should provide the adequate framework for 1) the integral management of water resources; and 2) minimizing conflicts and optimizing conflict resolution processes.

Ricardo Toledo Silva
Núcleo de Pesquisas em Informações Urbanas,
Universidade de São Paulo, FAU.
São Paulo, Brazil.

e.mail: ritsilva@usp.br

"Water resources and urban growth in São Paulo. The complexity of an institutional architecture for sustainability"

Water supply in the Metropolitan Region of São Paulo relies almost exclusively on surface extraction. The growing expansion of the main conurbation – today composed by 39 municipalities housing around 18 million people – has been a permanent threat to the metropolitan water resources. In 1975 the state of São Paulo passed specific land use regulations for and established the borders of protected areas around reservoirs, but the enforcement of these regulations has been jeopardized both by the lack of an effective metropolitan authority and by a conflict of jurisdiction between the state and the municipalities that integrate the metropolitan region. To some extent the impacts of this jurisdictional mismatch have been cushioned under the rule of full state provision and control of water supply and sanitation in the whole metropolis, since the integrated operation of a huge territorially and functionally bundled system has avoided major failures in the overall metropolitan supply. The prospect of privatization and operational unbundling, however, makes the institutional and operational margins for such a compensatory handling much narrower, and this implies the risk of larger social and territorial disparities in access to water and sanitation. Besides the specific outcomes affecting water supply, urban degradation threatens the overall sustainability of water resources – and of metropolitan life in general – by floods which are growing in intensity and frequency each year.

Both these problems involve common concerns in terms of: urban land use and occupation in the Metropolitan Area, considering the lack of motivation of most local powers in restraining urban degradation over their territories. This paper addresses the particular interactions between urban growth and environmental sustainability affecting water supply, sanitation and flood control in the Metropolitan Area of São Paulo. It analyzes the main technological, institutional and economic conditions which have given raise to the overall process of environmental degradation, emphasizing the present vulnerabilities associated to an unclear assignment of competencies regarding privatized public services. It concludes that to counteract this tendency to depletion and fragmentation of the metropolitan structure and environment – with emphasis in the water system – it is necessary to build up new institutional instruments, in which the state, the civil organizations and the municipalities share the power to coordinate new metropolitan wide regulations able to harmonize the needs of urban development and sustainability.

Dr. María Luisa Torregrossa
Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO) Mexico

"Social and institutional transformations in the forms of management and administration of water in Mexico. A comparative study of four cities in the Pacific Basin"

This paper is based on a study of regional inequality which forms part of the research activities of the Research Group on the Mexican Pacific Basin, Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO).

In the late 1980s the Mexican water sector underwent significant transformations, especially regarding water management policy. Among other factors underscoring this development stand out, firstly, the increasing urbanization process in the country, which accelerated since the 1970s and boosted water demand for domestic, public, and industrial uses. Secondly, the stricter requirements posed by the international financial centers, which demand the privatization and decentralization of water services in the country. As a result of these processes, a new institutional framework was set in place in order to implement the policies of modernization in the sector. The main landmarks of this process were the creation of the National Water Commission in 1989 and, especially, the transformation of the juridical and regulatory framework governing the access to water in the country through the reforms to Article 27 and the National Water Law, in 1992.

These policies strengthened the modernization policies in the Mexican water sector, both rural and urban, and boosted the ongoing decentralization and privatization strategies. Especially, the process redirected in a radical fashion the role of public institutions in the management and administration of the resource and gave a more prominent participation to private companies and other forms of social management of water that had emerged over the years throughout the country. In the particular case of water for urban-industrial consumption, the decentralization and privatization of public utilities delivering potable water and drainage in different regions has resulted in a wide-ranging variety of situations, which correspond to the existing regional inequalities and contrasts.

The main goal of this paper is to analyze the transformations undergone by the juridical and institutional framework, the particular forms taken by these transformations in the different regional contexts of the country, and the impact of these regional processes on the new public and social institutional framework being currently developed in the Mexican water sector. We have selected four cities located in the Pacific basin, which extends from northwest to southeast. These comprise northern and central urban centers like Sonora and Guadalajara, which enjoy comparatively better economic conditions than many other regions in the country and have received significant investments in the agricultural and industrial sectors. Also, we have included other cities like the southern Chilpancingo and Oaxaca, which have an incipient industrial development and economies centered on tourism and traditional agriculture, and where the economic situation is much more polarized and poverty-stricken.

Within this context, we examine the different characteristics of the process of decentralization in the water sector as well as the wide-ranging social and institutional forms developed for the management and distribution of water in these regions.


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