Sunday, July 31, 2011

WASH sustainability charter

An interesting new development in the sector: A WASH Sustainability Charter has been put forward and endorsed by roughly two dozen donors and practitioner organizations (

The signatories should be applauded for their efforts to raise the profile of the sustainability challenge in W&S investments, and for taking the first steps to give more emphasis to sustainability in their program and project design.

It would also be helpful to see in the charter a frank recognition of (and a commitment to addressing) the many incentives that work against sustainability in the sector--including professional incentives in organizations such as those signing on to the charter.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Look out, Clean Water Act

HR 2018 has passed in the House of Representatives (7/13/11)--keep an eye on this one. Put forward by Rep. John Mica (R) of Florida, the bill seeks "[t]o amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to preserve the authority of each State to make determinations relating to the State's water quality standards, and for other purposes." In short, HR 2018 seeks to reduce federal authority over water quality regulation (as laid out in the Clean Water Act) in favor of state control. Here's hoping the Senate does its job to curtail this assault on minimal national standards for water quality.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

JCEM article on private-public partnerships and conflict

Just published today:

H. Schaffer-Boudet, D.C. Jayasundera, and J. Davis. 2011. “Drivers of conflict in global infrastructure projects: Experience from the water and pipeline sectors.” Journal of Construction Engineering and Management, Vol. 137, (7): 498-511. DOI: 10.1061/(ASCE)CO.1943-7862.0000333.


Abstract: Despite the considerable scholarship focused on infrastructure investment in the developing world and the substantial sums of money spent each year on developing-country infrastructure, little attention has been given to understanding the drivers of conflict that shape the trajectory and cost structures of these massive investments. The manifestation of conflict among stakeholders in infrastructure projects ranges from the renegotiation of contract terms by project partners to popular protests among consumers of privatized services. The principal objective of this research is to identify combinations of country, project, and stakeholder factors that are associated with the emergence of legal and political conflict within natural gas and oil pipeline projects and water supply concessions and leases. The analysis includes data from 26 infrastructure projects spanning 31 countries and uses an analytical approach derived from Boolean algebra. Country-level characteristics, such as extent of democracy and rate of international NGO membership, are found to be important elements in the recipes for conflict among water supply projects but not for pipeline projects. Local impacts such as service price increases (water supply) and limited provision of oil and gas to the project host country (pipelines) are also important drivers of conflict for both subsectors. The involvement of one or more international financial institutions is also associated with the emergence of conflict in projects. Contrary to expectations, public consultation is associated with conflict in both subsectors. Overall, the study findings suggest that several factors associated with conflict in infrastructure projects can be minimized with careful project design.