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Back to the future?: privatisation and the domestication of water in the Copperbelt Province of Zambia, 1900-2000

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>09/2007
<mark>Journal</mark>Geoforum
Issue number5
Volume38
Number of pages17
Pages (from-to)869-885
StatePublished
Early online date21/05/07
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

In Zambia's Copperbelt as in most of the developing world, the water sector is undergoing reforms targeted at promoting an active participation of the private sector. Conventional wisdom suggests that the private sector will be better able to achieve universal access as opposed to the public sector which hitherto has failed to deliver. Using archival materials from the Copperbelt Province, this paper however argues that in countries like Zambia where economic enterprise was driven by private capital, access to water has always been tied to an active involvement of the private sector. The full story of failure to provide universal access to potable water cannot be told without examining this historical role of the private sector and its relationship with the public sector. At the same time, contemporary policy debates can benefit from the resonance of historical debates around economic efficiency, demand management, health and access in the production and consumption of water. (c) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.