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What drives the urban water regime? An analysis of water governance arrangements in Hyderabad, India

Maryam Nastar, Lund University Center for Sustainability Studies


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Urban water scarcity is increasingly seen as a governance issue, not least in cities like Hyderabad, India, where the demand for urban water exceeds the available supply to the extent that some low priority areas in the city receive water for only a few hours on alternate days. Based on a multi-level perspective in transition studies, this study explores the major interplay between actors in the urban water regime and analyzes how that influences access to water among the urban poor. The findings show how the practices of the consolidated regime are environmentally, socially, and economically unsustainable. In investigating the driving forces behind the attributes of the urban water regime, we draw attention to the impact of landscape pressures, i.e., international donors’ influence on water policy, and initiatives at the regime and niche levels. Further, and in response to that, we investigate potential niche experiments promoting water access for the urban poor. Accordingly, it is suggested that socio-technical and socio-political "niche" experiments could be combined into a citizen-based challenge against the existing urban regime practices and the dominant discourses at the landscape level. Here water harvesting techniques could be a viable niche innovation with citizen involvement to be scaled-up in an enabling institutional setting. This requires a coalition of social movement and political action, providing an arena for a new vision in the water sector that would replace the one imposed by landscape forces represented by international donors.

Key words

Hyderabad; India; multi-level perspective; transition studies; water governance

Copyright © 2014 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087