Main content area

Water Brokers: Exploring Urban Water Governance through the Practices of Tanker Water Supply in Accra

Alba, Rossella, Bruns, Antje, Bartels, Lara Esther, Kooy, Michelle
Water 2019 v.11 no.9
emotions, prices, tankers, water distribution, water supply, Ghana
Accra, the capital city of Ghana, is characterized by limited networked supply, heterogeneous water providers, and various forms of provision. In this paper, we explore how the people delivering water through water tankers shape the distribution of water across the city. Drawing on empirical descriptions of water sourcing and distribution by truck drivers, we show that who gets what water at what price is shaped by the ability of tanker drivers to act as brokers, piecing together various social and material arrangements and resorting to different rationalities and expertise. We analyze how state actors deal with tanker supply seeking to reconcile their mandates with the realities of water supply. Analyzing urban water supply through the practices of water distribution, we show the messy and open-ended character of water governance processes. A practice-based approach makes the complex interrelations between different water providers across the city visible, and underscores the role of individual and collective identities, emotions, moral norms, and unequal interdependencies between actors in shaping urban water distributions.