| 19.01.2021

Doctoral defence 22.1.2021: Rural villages are made dependent on private water supply

Companies equipped with modern technology, such as with the capability to purify water, can control and shape what is understood as the truth about water in rural villages in the global South. Through this, rural villages are made dependent on private companies related to water supply, Yewondwossen Tesfaye states in his doctoral dissertation “Neoliberalism in everyday governmentality: The conduct of rural drinking water and rainwater practices”.

The research is based on interviews that Tesfaye has gathered through three projects in India and Ethiopia.

 “The state and its partners, such as global development agencies, financers and NGOs might keep on sustaining a lack of capacity in poor villages rather than addressing it comprehensively even though the actors explicitly aim for independent and financially responsible rural water supply. This was a central finding in one of the projects that I looked at, The Ethiopian Water Sanitation and Hygiene program", Tesfaye says.

Another project where Tesfaye gathered material was based in desert prone Peeth in Rajastan, India. There, Tesfaye interviewed partners of Sarvajal, which is a company that provided a water purification and distribution service.

 “There were problems with supplying clean water in the village because the public distribution lines were either broken or rusty. Sarvajal provided a modern ground water purification technology. It was said that only Sarvajal can provide safe water, while the communal purification system, not the broken distribution pipes, equated with unsafe water. This understanding privatises what is viewed as ‘safe’ by attaching it merely to the company’s purification technology’, Tesfaye says.

The third project that Tesfaye visited was also situated in Ethiopia. There, Tesfaye analysed discourses on rainwater in Oxfam-Swizz Re partnered Weather Index Insurance project in the Michael Debir district in Amhara.

 “Through talking in terms of "lack of capacity", the people in the villages are rendered governable. "Lack of capacity" displays an ideal form of neoliberal technology of power”, Tesfaye concludes.

You can read the doctoral thesis in full here.

The event will be held virtually. You can join the Teams meeting here. The link will go online at 12:00 noon on 22 January.

Contact details:

Yewondwossen Tesfaye Gemechu
Telephone: 044 975 0946
E-mail: yewondwossen.tesfaye@hanken.fi

Yewondwossen Tesfaye Gemechu will be defending his doctoral thesis at 12:00 noon on 22 January 2021. The field of study is Supply Chain Management and Social responsibility.
Opponent: Rohit Varman - University of Birmingham
Chair: Nikodemus Solitande