UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Beyond the public-private binary: cooperatives as alternative water governance models Moccia, Suzanne


This thesis examines the concept of water cooperatives as an alternative model to create access, supply and manage water services in poor urban and peri urban areas. Two case studies from the Municipality of Moreno, Buenos Aires are presented in this thesis in order to account for the feasibility of the model. The primary data for this research is derived from participant observation, key informant interviews, household questionnaire-based interviews and archival research. The significance of researching water cooperatives is that they have traditionally been dismissed in regard to their potential of being a practical alternative to large water concessions and public run water services in the Global South. Research on alternatives such as water cooperatives is key, particularly in the face of growing de-privatization in the water sector in the province of Buenos Aires. The Buenos Aires Metropolitan Area is an important case study for research on water governance because it was intended to be the World Banks model for which other countries would strive to emulate when reforming and improving water services by means of private concessions. The first part of the thesis examines the political and social history of water cooperatives in Argentina and the effects of privatization on the cooperative model. The second part outlines the theoretical advantages and disadvantages of the governance model and positions these theories against the realities of an existing water cooperative and a poor peri-urban community that has a strong affinity for implementing the model in their community. The two case studies presented in this thesis help to elucidate why the water governance model is able to serve poor peri-urban communities that otherwise remain unserviced by the traditional public or private water governance models. This is significant if we are earnest about providing water and sanitation services to all.

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