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Closing the Infrastructure Gap? The Role of Public-Private Partnerships in Water Sector Development and the Economic, Political, and Social Factors that Determine Project Success

  • Author(s): Nizkorodov, Evgenia
  • Advisor(s): Matthew, Richard
  • et al.
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License

Given the success of the Private Finance Initiative in the United Kingdom and the large-scale ideological shift to neoliberalism, supporters of public-private partnerships (PPPs) argue that the theoretical benefits of the management approach (innovative financial mechanisms, budgetary relief, increased economic and technical efficiency, and transfer of risk to the private partner) can allow governments in low-income nations to close the infrastructure gap in the water sector. Utilizing a Social Ecological framework, this Master’s Thesis examines these claims by identifying the sources of supply and demand for Water, Sanitation, and Health (WASH) PPPs. Drawing from the World Bank Private Participation in Infrastructure database, the research discovers that the majority of projects are found in middle-income economies, with investment stemming primarily from public – rather than private – partners. The data also reveals that despite being touted as a panacea for development and growth, since the 1990s PPPs are responsible for only 11.12 percent of gained water access. Given the high cost of project cancellation and distress in the water sector (20 percent of total investment), the thesis also explores the Critical Success Factors (CSFs) that determine project success. A thorough literature review based on both outcome- and output-based project metrics revealed a total 13 CSFs. The thesis concludes that given the high economic, political, and social requirements of these partnerships, in its present form, the management approach is not an appropriate solution for promoting WASH infrastructural growth in developing economies.

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