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The presence of the past: a retrospective view of the politics of urban water management in Accra, Ghana
Linköping University, The Tema Institute, Centre for Climate Science and Policy Research . Linköping University, The Tema Institute, Department of Water and Environmental Studies. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8047-9669
2012 (English)In: Water History, ISSN 1877-7236, Vol. 4, no 2, 137-154 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Since the 1990s there has been an explosion of literature on the topic of commercialisation of water services in low-income cities. However, relatively little of this research analyzes a longer time perspective. This article historicizes contemporary policydebates on urban water supply and sanitation provision. By examining Ghana’s urban history from British colonial rule to the immediate post-independence era, the article demonstrates that many of the critical issues and arguments that appeared in past debateson water are echoed in contemporary discussions. The much debated issue of pricing ofwater sparked heated discussions in colonial Accra, thus these debates are not new. Second, whereas much of the literature in the area focuses on commodification of waterservices in the context of neo-liberalism and economic globalisation since the 1970s, this article points to the important role played by historically conditioned concerns about democracy, representation and trust in deepening our understanding of contemporary protests against private sector participation in urban water management. Third, the article argues that a colonial legacy from the past tends to continue normalising intra-urbaninequality in consumption and access to urban water services in Ghana. Taken together this shows the role of history as a highly present and operating force in the shaping of ourpresent-day politics.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer, 2012. Vol. 4, no 2, 137-154 p.
Keyword [en]
Urban Water, Ghana, Water History, Private Sector Participation, Policy Debates
National Category
Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-81853DOI: 10.1007/s12685-011-0047-2OAI: diva2:556075
Available from: 2012-09-24 Created: 2012-09-24 Last updated: 2015-01-14

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Bohman, Anna
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Centre for Climate Science and Policy Research Department of Water and Environmental StudiesFaculty of Arts and Sciences
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