An emerging logic of urban water management, Cochabamba, Bolivia

Simon Marvin*, Nina Laurie

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    39 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper examines the emergence of a new logic of water management in developing cities. We argue that water provision is characterised by two largely disconnected circuits of water supply. Formally organised distribution networks provide a publicly subsidised service to higher-income users, while an informal system of water vendors provides a more expensive supply to marginalised communities. A new style of water management is now challenging the productionist logic that has created and maintained these dual networks. The case study of water privatisation in the city of Cochabamba, Bolivia, illustrates how this emerging logic is reconfiguring the management of urban water networks with a shift from large supply options towards greater consideration of user needs and extension of the network to unconnected communities. The productionist logic is in a period of profound transition as efforts are being made to mesh together more effectively the formal and informal networks. While this process is highly contested, many of the central assumptions of the productionist logic are challenged and new opportunities for a more socially inclusionary and environmentally sensitive style of water management are emerging.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)341-357
    Number of pages17
    JournalUrban Studies
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1999


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