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 research interests include international development, water infrastructure and governance, and urbanization in sub-Saharan Africa.

In my dissertation, I examine water operator partnerships (WOPs) as an alternative approach for reforming public water utilities in developing countries. In contrast to public-private partnerships (PPPs), WOPs are aimed at peer-to-peer learning 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 partnerships, I study the conditions that facilitate knowledge transfer and capacity development among water operators. Based on a case study of Lilongwe, Malawi, I seek to understand how different WOP constellations affect the ‘everyday practices’ of utility staff, and how these practices mediate access to water services among urban populations. Read more about my dissertation fieldwork in this student spotlight on MIT News.

Building on my dissertation research, I am currently developing two follow-on projects on alternatives to privatization and city-to-city learning: (1) the remunicipalization of water services and WOPs in Accra, Ghana, and (2) the 'learning city' concept and its implementation in Durban, South Africa (fieldwork summer 2019).


Peer-Reviewed 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. Related blog post on FLOWs.

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.

Other Articles

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.