Discuss different models of role division between private and public actors and mixed forms (corporatisation) for providing infrastructure services (water, energy) at the optimum cost in a sustainable manner.
Having access to clean drinking water sources is essential for leading a healthy life. Still there are hundreds of millions of people without it. The world population has doubled since the 1950s and water use has even tripled. Yet, the available quantity of fresh water remains equal to the amount existing one million years ago. (Schouten, 2009, p. 3) The United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) try to react to the problems this scarcity brings about, but seem to be failing at putting their goals into action. This is due to various reasons. It may be the unique characteristics surrounding the complex water sector making it very difficult to bring about change, or even to decide about which changes should be made. It may also be due to the fact that governments in many countries fail in appropriately governing their water sectors. Among the many reasons the most important one is mostly not having enough funds available to build, maintain or extend the massive and highly capital-intensive infrastructure. Thus, the private sector is generally highly involved, be it as shareholder, service provider or one of the other many shapes that this involvement may take on. Although the private sector is involved in the water sector it is not as in involved as it could be – as it is for example in the telecommunications or electricity market. This is mainly due to the fact that water provision, especially when involving private parties, is a politically so loaded issue. This paper will therefore focus on how to keep politics from interfering in the provision of water and sanitation infrastructure. Several case studies shall be analyzed in order to show where the problem areas are located and how they may be avoided. As a first case study the “Water War” that broke out in the city of Cochabamba in Bolivia in the year 2000 will be looked at. It shall illustrate nicely the tension that politics may bring about in the water sector and how this might affect reform plans in the water sector. Then an overview over the water provision situation in Azerbaijan will show what problems arise from a history of planned market systems and what plans the SECO had to solve them. The way in which a western country like Switzerland deals with the problems of water infrastructure provision will be shown by analyzing the case of Basel. From these three case studies the key problems shall then be identified and analyzed in order to finally give some possible solutions to them in form of two checklists.