Articles | Volume 373
12 May 2016
 | 12 May 2016

Institutions in transitioning peri-urban communities: spatial differences in groundwater access

Sharlene L. Gomes and Leon M. Hermans

Abstract. Urbanization creates challenges for water management in an evolving socio-economic context. This is particularly relevant in transitioning peri-urban areas like Khulna, Bangladesh where competing demands have put pressure on local groundwater resources. Users are unable to sufficiently meet their needs through existing institutions. These institutions provide the rules for service provision and act as guidelines for actors to resolve their water related issues. However, the evolving peri-urban context can produce fragmented institutional arrangements. For example in Khulna, water supply is based on urban and rural boundaries that has created water access issues for peri-urban communities. This has motivated local actors to manage their groundwater needs in various ways. General institutional theories are well developed in literature, yet little is known about institutions in transitioning peri-urban areas. Institutions that fail to adapt to changing dynamics run the risk of becoming obsolete or counter-productive, hence the need for investigating institutional change mechanisms in this context. This paper examines peri-urban case studies from Khulna using the Institutional Analysis and Development framework to demonstrate how institutions have contributed to spatial differences in groundwater access with local actors investing in formal and informal institutional change as a means of accessing groundwater.