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Green Neoliberalism in Water Infrastructure Development in Mandalay, Myanmar

Authors: Ally Patrick*, University of Wyoming
Topics: Development, Water Resources and Hydrology, Asia
Keywords: Urban Political Ecology, Water Infrastructure Development, Green Neoliberalism, Southeast Asia
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The aim of this paper is to illuminate green neoliberal development practices of international development agencies in cities in the Global South. By analyzing a case study of development to improve access to clean water in Mandalay, Myanmar through the urban political ecology and critical development lenses, I argue that international development agencies are changing the landscape of development to make it more suitable for their practices while also creating a landscape conducive for community engagement in a transitional democracy. Using ethnographic methods, I interviewed water infrastructure development stakeholders to understand how different stakeholder groups defined issues of access to clean water in the city. Discourse around access to clean water reveals the power dynamics between stakeholder groups as they struggle for control over water. While development agencies are working towards public potable water being tapped into people’s homes in Mandalay, many community members are satisfied with their current access to clean water outside of city services (via tube wells or having drinking water delivered via private companies). Development agencies push the lack of training and funds as a problem in the city to legitimize their solution to the “problem,” while profiting from their investments.

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