1963-2013 - 50 years of Research for Social Change

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Back | Programme Area: Markets, Business and Regulation, Social Policy and Development

Historia del sector sanitario chileno: De la gestión estatal hasta el proceso de privatización



Chile is often considered a successful example among countries that have transferred ownership of drinking water utilities to the private sector. Chile’s national socioeconomic survey, CASEN (Encuesta de Caracterización Socioeconómica Nacional), shows that between 1988 and 1998 there was a decline in the percentage of homes without access to drinking water. The most significant gains have occurred in the second and third income deciles, as access has increased among the poor. However, to understand the processes involved in developing and providing these essential services, the conditions under which they were operating at the time of privatization, the mechanism that made reform possible, and the obstacles and problems still to be overcome, a more detailed analysis of the history of Chile’s sanitation services is required.

This study considers the history and tradition of drinking water and sanitation systems in Chile, examining how the industry functioned prior to privatization, the historical realities of the development of sanitation infrastructure, the quality of service, and the sector’s technical and professional capacities. The objective is to understand the principal reasons for the changes that have occurred, how the reforms that led to privatization were managed, the timeframe required to develop and implement them, how rates were set, how the subsidy system operated, and the actual process of privatization and its consequences. The study also examines the realities of rural drinking water during this time period in areas where privatization had not occurred and where its development and functioning have not been affected by overall changes in the sanitation sector. Finally, the study describes lessons learned, the context that made reform and privatization possible, and the challenges that remain.
  • Publication and ordering details
  • Pub. Date: 28 Dec 2006
    Pub. Place: Geneva
    ISSN: 1020-8208
    From: UNRISD