Jun 01 2009

Restructuring for a Drought Network

by at 2:57 pm under Uncategorized

This weekend, I spent a beautiful afternoon in the sun at a local pool. As I looked around at the mass of other people enjoying the same opportunity, I acknowledged how bodies of water connect people in communities and connect countries across the open seas. Yet for many developing countries, how isolating it must be during a drought or a particularly arid season in which crops fail and access to water is limited to the point of serious health risks. Through the lens of a development strategist, utilizing many of Douglass North’s principles, I propose the following plan to counteract some of the network interstices that could potentially reconnect such a community to a public good in times of crisis.

20-acre Chilean pool by fak3r

20-acre Chilean pool by fak3r

1. Improve information feedback (North, 24) of the longevity and severity of the drought crises in order to allow the main actors to plan accordingly. When there is high competition for limited resources, violence and chaos can erupt – therefore, there should be national (or regional in case of national unrest) emergency response services that have contacts in each at-risk community and can monitor the situation to ask how the community can receive higher marginal returns from a balance of environmental agents, emergency relief, and/or security details.

2. Transaction costs are much higher in underdeveloped economies due to lack of formal structure and enforcement of institutions that are set in place to protect citizens (North, 67). Therefore, I suggest that an incentive-based relationship between a larger distribution firm for water or filters (with lower transaction costs) and at-risk regional communities that allows for the former to market its “charitable” status (as an incentive) and perhaps set up aside a percentage of international sales of such goods like filters and bottled water to go towards these communities during times of need. In this kind of trade, the risks are higher for the drought-ridden community, but the opportunities from an economic standpoint may be greater for the capital-rich water corporations.

3. Communication strategies and education of the populations must provide interconnectedness to other struggling communities and their coping strategies. Also, the introduction of sanitation of available water sources may counteract some of the externalities of the drought. A regional or national governing body should perhaps set a mandate (with enforcement by outside organizations) on strategies for drought prevention if it in any way can be prevented by human interruption or water storage techniques. The informal constraints of an established institutional body such as reputation, accepted standards of conduct, and conventions created through repetitious collaboration (North, 61) can enforce the likelihood of a beneficent front towards such a crisis.

2008 drought in Cyprus from treehugger.com

2008 drought in Cyprus from treehugger.com

Though some of these development strategies may be primitive, I believe that the interpolation of institutional firms whether international or national will help to counteract some of the devastation of limited water supplies for underdeveloped countries. Through a balance of information feedback, sharing transaction costs, and communication and education strategies, the drought crises may be harnessed. We all should have access to this “pool” of resources, especially one so necessary for all aspects of life.

No responses yet | Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

Comments RSS

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.