Andrea Beck

I am a PhD candidate in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT. I am affiliated with the International Development Group and the Environmental Policy and Planning Group. My current research focuses on the politics of water and sanitation governance in cities of the global South, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.

My dissertation project examines transnational water operator partnerships (WOPs) as an alternative partnership approach for strengthening public water and sanitation utilities in developing countries. In contrast to public-private partnerships (PPPs), WOPs are aimed at peer-to-peer capacity building on a not-for-profit and solidarity basis. To date, more than 200 WOPs have been formed around the world, predominantly between service providers in the global South. Comparing North-South and South-South arrangements in WOPs, I study the conditions that facilitate knowledge exchange and learning among water and sanitation operators. Through ethnographic research in Lilongwe, Malawi, I seek to understand how different WOP constellations affect the ‘everyday practices’ of utility staff, and how these practices in turn mediate access to water and sanitation services among urban populations.

My work is supported by the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning, the Center for International Studies, the MISTI Netherlands program, and the Abdul Latif Jameel Water and Food Systems (J-WAFS) Lab.

Prior to MIT, I worked for various development organizations in Malawi, Tanzania, and Germany. I received a M.Sc. in Integrated Water Resources Management from McGill University, a M.A. in International Peace and Security from King’s College London, and a B.A. in Political Science from the Free University of Berlin.

Research Interests

international development; political economy; Southern urbanism; infrastructure and public service provision; water governance; sub-Saharan Africa


Journal Articles

*Beck, A. (2019). Water Operator Partnerships: Peer Learning and the Politics of Solidarity in Water and Sanitation Service Provision. WIREs Water, 6(1), e01324. Read a summary here.

*Beck, A. (2016). Aboriginal Consultation in Canadian Water Negotiations: The Mackenzie Bilateral Water Management Agreements. Dalhousie Law Journal, 39(2), 487-523.

*Beck, A. (2015). The UN Peacebuilding Commission and the Potential of Water in Post-Conflict Development, Governance and Reconciliation. Water International, 40(2), 215-230.

Beck, A. (2014). China’s Strategy in the Arctic: A Case of Lawfare? Polar Journal, 4(2), 306-318.

Beck, A. (2014). Drought, Dams, and Survival: Linking Water to Conflict and Cooperation in Syria’s Civil War. International Affairs Forum, 5(1), 11-22.

Book Reviews

Beck, A. (2018). Stemming the Tide: Human Rights and Water Policy in a Neoliberal World, by Madeline Baer. Water Alternatives, 11(2), 441-444.

Beck, A. & Vogler, J. (2017). The Evolution of Economic Systems: Varieties of Capitalism in the Global Economy, by Barry Clark. Journal of Economic Geography, 17(1), 263-264.

Beck, A. (2016). Handbook on Water Security, edited by Claudia Pahl-Wostl, Anik Bhaduri & Joyeeta Gupta. Water International, 41(7), 1049-1051.

* peer-reviewed