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System order and function in urban sanitation governance: Exploring the concept of polycentric systems in the city of Kampala, Uganda
Stockholm University, Stockholm Resilience Centre.
2013 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 40 credits / 60 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Sanitation provision can in many low-income countries be regarded as a complex collective action problem, and is often managed through complex actor constellations. The theory of ‘polycentric order’ has been proposed for the governance of such constellations, describing ordered systems of interacting but autonomous actors. However, empirical data is largely lacking on how this concept can be applied to contribute to governance analysis in low-economy contexts. This paper uses polycentric systems theory to combine a broad assessment of system order with an evaluation of functional aspects associated with polycentricity. The theories are tested against a case study of the sanitation planning and implementation system of Kampala, Uganda, where responsibilities are split between multi-level authorities, NGOs, private sector actors and local landlords. Interviews with sector representatives indicate a system which is largely polycentric, but also to some extent lacks the essential aspect of common and enforced rules. While the diverse set of actors do show adaptive capacity, the analysis exemplifies how this capacity may give sub-optimal or even counteractive solutions if not matched by relevant incentive mechanisms at each level. Furthermore, the actor diversity is found to give enhanced capacity and sometimes function as a flexible ‘safety net’ in service provision, but also risk giving adverse effects in terms of equity and distribution. While some of these outlined problems may be alleviated by well-designed institutions, others are expected to come at a trade-off between flexibility and stability in actor roles. Conclusively, this study gives an empirical illustration of how a polycentric perspective can allow for a wider analysis of systemic problems in a decentralized, low-income governance context.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 32 p.
Keyword [en]
polycentric systems, governance, sanitation, low-income countries, Kampala
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-94965OAI: diva2:657357
2013-10-11, 09:30
Available from: 2013-10-18 Created: 2013-10-18 Last updated: 2013-10-28Bibliographically approved

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P Nordqvist MSc thesis 2013(1211 kB)639 downloads
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