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The technical is political: understanding the political implications of sector characteristics for the delivery of drinking water services

Research reports

Written by Nathaniel Mason, Daniel Harris, Richard Batley

Research reports

The water supply sector has characteristics that have political as well as technical implications. They affect the ways individuals and groups interact in relation to the delivery of drinking water services.

These characteristics vary in important ways across urban, peri-urban and rural contexts, and across networked and non-networked delivery mechanisms, with implications for the types of political dynamics that might lead to sustainable improvements in sector outcomes. Even where private sector provision dominates, political factors complement market forces and technical needs in determining outcomes.

Using a structured approach to understanding the relationship between technical and political features can help make sense of key sector debates, bridge the linguistic and conceptual gap with the models of governance specialists and strengthen understanding of why performance in water supply services might either outpace or lag behind other sectors in a given context.

Nathaniel Mason, Daniel Harris and Richard Batley