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Making the poor pay for public goods via microfinance: Economic and political pitfalls in the case of water and sanitation


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  • Mader, Philip
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    This paper critically assesses microfinance's expansion into the provision of public goods. It focuses on the problem of public goods and collective action and refers to the specific example of water and sanitation. The microfinancing of water and sanitation is a private business model which requires households to recognise, internalise and capitalise the benefits from improved water and sanitation. This requirement is not assured. Water and sanitation, being closely linked to underlying common-pool resources, are public goods which depend on collective governance solutions. They also have shifting public/private characteristics and are merit goods which depend on networks to enable provision to take place. Two cases, from Vietnam and India, are presented and evaluated. Despite their dissimilar settings and institutional designs, evidence is found that both projects encountered similar and comparable problems at the collective level which individual microfinance loans could not address. The paper concludes that trying to make the poor pay for public goods runs into four pitfalls: politics, public capacity, values and equity. -- Das Papier untersucht die Auswirkungen von Mikrofinanzierung auf öffentliche Güter und kollektives Handeln am Beispiel der Errichtung von Wasser- und Sanitäranlagen in Ländern der Dritten Welt. Das zugrunde liegende private Geschäftsmodell geht davon aus, dass Haushalte mittels Mikrokredite die Vorteile verbesserter Wasser- und Sanitäreinrichtungen erkennen und sich auch finanziell zunutze machen können - diese Voraussetzung ist allerdings nicht gegeben. Zudem sind Wasser- und Sanitärversorgung meritorische Güter, für deren Bereitstellung Netzwerke erforderlich sind. Sie erfordern eine kollektive Verwaltung, weil sie sowohl öffentliche als auch private Merkmale aufweisen und mit Gemeinschaftsgütern eng verknüpft sind. Ausgangslage und institutionelle Rahmenbedingungen der beiden untersuchten Fallbeispiele in Vietnam und Indien sind unterschiedlich. Trotzdem geben die Ergebnisse der Studie Hinweise auf vergleichbare Probleme auf der kollektiven Ebene, die nicht über Mikrofinanzierung lösbar sind. Es zeigt sich, dass der Versuch, die Armen zur Finanzierung öffentlicher Güter zu bringen, an mehreren Hindernissen scheitert: an der lokalen Politik, einem unzureichend entwickelten öffentlichen Sektor, unterschiedlichen Wertvorstellungen und mangelnder Verteilungsgerechtigkeit.

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    Paper provided by Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in its series MPIfG Discussion Paper with number 11/14.

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    Date of creation: 2011
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    Handle: RePEc:zbw:mpifgd:1114

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    1. Karlan, Dean S. & Zinman, Jonathan, 2009. "Expanding Microenterprise Credit Access: Using Randomized Supply Decisions to Estimate the Impacts in Manila," CEPR Discussion Papers 7396, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Byström, Hans N.E., 2008. "The Microfinance Collateralized Debt Obligation: A Modern Robin Hood?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(11), pages 2109-2126, November.
    3. Anand, P B, 2007. "Right to water and access to water," MPRA Paper 47437, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. P. B. Anand, 2007. "Right to water and access to water: an assessment," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(4), pages 511-526.
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