Guest editor's preface. Symposium on non-state provision of basic services

Richard Batley

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The question of ‘non-state provision’ has become part of conventional development discourse. It marks an extension from recognition of the formal private sector as an alternative (or partner) to government-run services to recognition of a much wider array of formal and informal providers. In the sphere of infrastructural services (such as water and energy), which were early into the debate about privatisation and contracting out, this is perhaps the consequence of the widespread failure of many formal contracts with big private contractors – failure in the sense that contracts have collapsed, often poor people have not been served by them, and foreign firms are less willing to risk their capital in this way (Global Water Intelligence, 2004). Social services – health and education – came later into the debate about alternatives to public systems of provision, and in these sectors it was always clear that, if there were alternatives, they did not come mainly in the shape of large private firms. Much more apparent in these sectors (but also increasingly recognised in water and sanitation) was a myriad of small-scale for-profit enterprises and individuals, and non-profit NGOs, community and faith-based organisations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-196
JournalPublic Administration and Development
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2006


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