The Unproductive Argument of Public versus Private:The Regulation of Water Services

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Throughout the world governments, international agencies, local organisations, community groups and NGOs are seeking means of delivering sustainable water and sanitation services. The traditional municipal approach, although in theory the most politically attractive due to responsibility and service provision resting wholly with elected local bodies, has failed to provide sustainable water services, with many in a spiral of decline. There are fundamental reasons for this decline but attempts have been made to rectify the deficiencies, not by addressing them but through a change to a different form of public sector operation or by use of the private sector. There have been both successes and failures. The use of, or even proposals to use the private sector, are often highly controversial and emotive, diverting attention away from the need for some fundamental reforms.

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