The aim of this study is to examine the institutional organization of the water sector. The Mediterranean area provides very diverse examples of water sector organization. This paper focuses more particularly on two aspects, the recent introduction of private sector participation and the institutional framework. Five countries have been reviewed in detail: Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Jordan. For each of these countries, the paper analyzes institutional arrangements for the water sector. It presents the theoretical legal framework but also the practice. It shows that ‘independent’ regulatory agencies have been set up in only a few countries. However, a closer look confirms that these regulatory agencies are rarely independent. The study also reveals that in most of the countries, the management of water supply suffers from political interference and is overly centralized. Experience with corporatization has also been limited. While the corporatization of local operators has been legalized in most countries, few have implemented it. Experience with private sector participation in water supply has been relatively positive and is, therefore, expected to expand in the future.
Keywords: Mediterranean region, Middle East, North Africa, Private sector participation, Privatization, Regulation, Water