The CRC Series on Competition, Regulation and Development
Edited by Paul Cook, Colin Kirkpatrick, Martin Minogue and David Parker
Chapter 16: Competition, regulation and the urban poor: a case study of water
Diana Mitlin INTRODUCTION This chapter explores the impact of regulation and competition policy on the poor. There are a number of anticipated influences both in regard to the poor as consumers and as producers and/or suppliers of goods and services. Potential areas of influence include the impact of regulation and competition policies on the price of basic commodities and services; the quality of commodities and services; opportunities for access to markets for commodities and services; changes in market opportunities for employment and enterprise development (both positive and negative); and changes in externalities such as environmental degradation, and health and safety. Such areas have an evident impact on the well-being of the poor, their capacity to avoid poverty and their development options. The study focuses on a single sector, water services, and considers the impacts for the urban poor. Water was selected because it is a basic need in maintaining life and improving well-being in the short, medium and long term. For the poor, the objective is access to affordable and adequate supplies of water to meet a multitude of needs. The significance of politics and policy in influencing outcomes such as access and affordability is emphasised by Spiller and Savedoff (1999, pp. 1–2): why is it so difficult to properly manage and operate water systems in the region, and more generally in the developing world? The problem is not related to project finance or lack of technical or manpower capabilities, but rather to the political economy of the sector....
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