Wirths (2020) Opportunities for Sustainable Water Governance in Ranchi, Jharkhand, India

Many citizens in Ranchi, Jharkhand, suffer from the consequences of contaminated drinking water. The city’s water governance system therefore urgently needs to find ways to bring safe drinking water to its people. Prevalent models in water governance however do not provide effective guidance for the necessary transition process. They lack heuristics that facilitate an in-depth understanding of context-specific institutions and capabilities that interventions can build on.

These contextual factors determine a person’s strategic agency and thus individual actions such as the drinking of unsafe water. Based on an adequate theoretical framework and 28 interviews with local stakeholders, this thesis analyses how enabling and constraining institutions and capabilities determine the intake of contaminated water by citizens in Ranchi.
It finds that the diverse and variable character of water contamination paired with citizens’ reliance on several types of water sources make unilateral approaches unlikely to succeed.

The analysis further identifies opportunities that can form part of a transition while examining knowledge levels among the population and the role of the local government, among others. More research is needed to test the strength and limitations of the developed framework of
strategic agency.