Participation or exploitation: How can concepts of community and privatization coalesce around water efficiency approaches?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The need to promote water efficient technologies and initiatives is increasingly a central feature of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM). Attendant to this is a growing focus by IWRM practitioners of the role that community plays in supporting a range of interventions that reduces overall water demand. Public information campaigns led by municipal authorities and water companies encourage water users to become involved in resource husbandry both inside and outside the home. Community participation is encouraged through community water reuse schemes, fundraising campaigns to build community scale water efficient interventions, and NGO, regulator and water company education activities to promote lifestyle changes which support water efficiency endeavours. Whilst there is a clear rationale for involving the community in water management, critical questions should be posed around the way in which this community participation is valued, particularly within privatized water resource management regimes. Does the drive to maximise water efficiency encourage participation or is it an “exploitation” of goodwill? Who derives the maximum utility from this approach; water stakeholders or water company shareholders? Exploring concepts of household revenue streams, Human Scale Development (HSD) and the Transition Network Movement (TNM), this paper advocates an approach that repositions water efficiency initiatives in such a way that ensures that community participation efforts are sufficiently rewarded within socially and environmentally sustainable markets.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2231-4784
Number of pages2554
JournalBritish Journal of Environment and Climate Change
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2016

Bibliographical note

© 2015 Gearey; This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


  • Community participation
  • human scale development
  • water efficiency
  • transition network movement


Dive into the research topics of 'Participation or exploitation: How can concepts of community and privatization coalesce around water efficiency approaches?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this