Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental and Energy Policy (MS)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Social Sciences


Kathleen E Halvorsen


More than 1 billion people lack access to clean water and proper sanitation. As part of efforts to solve this problem, there is a growing shift from public to private water management led by The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This shift has inspired much related research. Researchers have assessed water privatization related perceptions of consumers, government officials, and multinational company agents.

This thesis presents results of a study of nongovernmental (NGO) staff perceptions of water privatization. Although NGOs are important actors in sustainable water related development through water provision, we have little understanding of their perceptions of water privatization and how it impacts their activities. My goal was to fill this gap. I sampled international and national development NGOs with water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) foci. I conducted 28 interviews between January and June of 2011 with staff in key positions including water policy analysts, program officers, and project coordinators. Their perceptions of water privatization were mixed. I also found that local water privatization in most cases does not influence NGO decisions to conduct projects in a region. I found that development NGO staff base their beliefs about water privatization on a mix of personal experience and media coverage. My findings have important implications for the WASH sector as we work to solve the worsening global water access crisis.