Anatomy of a Water Crisis

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This case study navigates the complex issues that may have contributed to the water crisis that erupted in March 2019 in Metro Manila. The roles of the regulator, concessionaires and certain donors are discussed herein. Longstanding structural challenges – including ambiguity in the water concession agreements as well as the political economy of ODA-financed vs PPP water infrastructure – are some of the possible factors behind the delays in the development of infrastructure for raw water sources. In addition, as the actual water shortage developed in the immediate term, both the regulator and private sector concessionaires apparently did not deploy proper protocols to mitigate the crisis until it was too late.