1963-2013 - 50 years of Research for Social Change

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Back | Programme Area: Markets, Business and Regulation (2000 - 2009) | Event: UNRISD workshop on Social Policy, Regulation and Private Sector Involvement in Water Supply


UNRISD workshop on Social Policy, Regulation and Private Sector Involvement in Water Supply


Social Policy, Regulation and Private Sector Water Supply : the Case of Malaysia


The development of the water sector in Malaysia has been fairly uneven. While the more developed states have almost achieved universal water coverage, the less developed states continue to struggle to provide water access particularly in the rural areas.

Underinvestment in the water distribution systems has also resulted in serious non-revenue water problems in some states. A few states have opted to privatize their water sector. Evidence from household expenditure data indicates that access to treated water has improved in all income (proxied by total expenditure) categories between 1993–1994 and 1998–1999. However, water affordability for the households with lower incomes has worsened during the same period. The impact of privatization on issues of access and affordability is mixed. Econometric analysis indicates that privatization does not seem to have improved access to water nor has it necessarily worsened water affordability. The latter observation is consistent with analysis of consumption levels based on existing tariff levels and the WHO’s lifeline consumption benchmark.