Drops of knowledge : a case study of the private water market in Guayaquil, Ecuador
Abstract: Many funtions like infrastructure and resource management in Latin America are governed by the state, but lately there seems to be a shift in governance in favor for private actors. One example where this is seen is in the city of Guayaquil, Ecuador where a privatization of the water market has taken place by the signing of a 30 year long concession contract between the state owned authority EMAPAG-EP, La Empresa Municipal de Agua Potable y Alcantarillado de Guayaquil - Empresa Pública, and the private company Interagua. The shift in management has brought profit interests into the local water market, and has contributed to increase the control and power for Interagua, where the same has decreased for the state. In addition, it is possible to see a stronger influence of neo-liberal governmentality in the water market today than before due to this shift. Even though Interagua has improved the water situation in Guayaquil there are still remaining problems. This makes it difficult for individual households to obtain updated information about the quality of the tap water and to trust the authorities and their information. Therefore, the households have to use their own knowledge and draw from their previous understanding of the water problems as well as develop different strategies to reassure that they can obtain potable water. This opens up space for private sellers of water purification systems to operate, make profit and reinforce the old perceptions regarding unpotable tap water. The sellers‟ arguments and information of why someone needs a purification system is not regulated and highly questionable. This thesis explores how selected households perceive their water situation, and how their knowledge and understanding of it can be connected to the private sellers‟ business and the overall shift in governance between EMAPAG-EP and Interagua.
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