Inderscience Publishers

Water markets in Tenerife: the conflict between instrumental and ceremonial functions of the institutions

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This work studies the working of water markets in Tenerife (Canary Islands), in terms of the conflict between the ceremonial and instrumental functions of the institutions (rules of the game). For us, the market is a mechanism whose performance depends mainly on the rules governing it. That is why we pay much attention to the explicit and implicit rules. Given the non-existence of quantitative data regarding prices and amounts, in-depth interviews and surveys are taken from water stockholders and users, giving priority to the qualitative and subjective aspects of the interviewees. The reason lies in the fact that the 'official' and accepted view of water markets in Tenerife, upheld by the World Bank and some important water stockholders, has always been based on a discourse which is impossible to verify, due to the absence of data. Therefore, this is the first work on the water markets of Tenerife which has a verifiable basis. This is why the results are presented in a comparative form with the affirmations of the World Bank and of the water administration boards of the Island. Results show serious problems of transparency, efficiency and reliance on water market institutions. That is the reason why hundreds of farmers leave the market in order to buy water directly from the public firm Balten whose rules are clear, whose pipes do not 'lose' water and whose meters are real meters.

Keywords: water economics, water markets, intervention, institutions, Tenerife, water resources management, water management

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