Scarcity, Entitlements and the Economics of Water in Developing Countries

Scarcity, Entitlements and the Economics of Water in Developing Countries

New Horizons in Environmental Economics series

P. B. Anand

P.B. Anand argues that if water supply and sanitation were mainly problems of technology or financial resources, they would have been resolved long ago. While appreciating that technology and finances are important, he ascertains that there are many other factors affecting our ability to intervene and improve the effectiveness of policies. The author explores these factors, raising questions such as ‘How is water scarcity defined?’, ‘Are there patterns that indicate how nations use available freshwater resources?’, ‘Does water shortage make nations use water more efficiently?’, and ‘What explains the variation in progress with regard to Millennium Development Goals related to water and sanitation?’.

Chapter 6: Improving Access to Water: Institutions, Entitlements and Inequality

P. B. Anand

Subjects: development studies, development economics, economics and finance, development economics, environmental economics, environment, environmental economics, water


6.1 INTRODUCTION In Chapter 3, with regard to the Millennium Development Goals, it was seen that improving access to water and sanitation is complex and in some respects, some of the differences between the high and low achievers were not statistically significant. Also, there is the question whether national-level progress is often at odds with the micro-level picture. This chapter focuses on access to water supply and issues of inequality in an individual city, Chennai, India, and examines the institutional and individual responses to water-supply shortages and scarcity. The plan of the chapter is as follows. Section 2 considers and adapts some strands of the relevant literature to water-supply issues. Sections 3 and 4 discusses water-supply provision in India and Chennai, respectively. Included in section 3 are: an explanation of how groundwater regulation affects market response and a discussion on a water balance sheet for Chennai. Section 5 focuses on issues of inequality in access to water supply using the entitlements approach. Section 6 focuses on the various steps that households take to improve water quality. Section 7 examines monthly expenditures incurred by households in relation to direct costs, costs of time in collecting water and costs related to improving water quality. Some issues for policy and further research are summarised in Section 8. 6.2 INSTITUTIONS AND ENTITLEMENTS IN RELATION TO WATER SUPPLY Reform of water-supply institutions is subject to various influences. If scarcity of water is considered to be a problem of there being not...

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