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Co-producing drinking water in rural Ethiopia: Governmentality in the name of community management

Linda Annala
Hanken School of Economics, Centre for Corporate Responsibility, Helsinki, Finland; linda.annala@hanken.fi

ABSTRACT: In rural drinking water governance, the reliance on community management has permeated development programmes and water policies for decades. Moving away from a community-centric view, this paper expands the focus to a broader landscape in order to investigate how the state, citizens and other non-state actors co-produce drinking water in the Amhara region of Ethiopia. The study seeks to understand what kinds of power relations are being (re)produced among co-producing actors through the discourse of community management. The conceptualisation of power relations is undertaken by employing Foucault’s governmentality perspective. As its empirical material, besides an examination of policy documents, the study utilises interviews with community Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Committees (WASHCOs), woreda (district) and regional water officials, private suppliers, NGO representatives, artisans and other actors. As a conceptual contribution, the paper makes power visible in the otherwise depoliticised literature of co-production. For governments and development practitioners, the study urges the opening up of spaces for discussion by showing how the vocabulary of community management can be appropriated to (re)produce power structures.

KEYWORDS: Co-production, community management, governmentality, rural drinking water governance, Ethiopia