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  • 1.
    Blomkvist, Pär
    et al.
    KTH, Stockholm.
    Nilsson, David
    KTH, Stockholm.
    On the Need for System Alignment in Large Water Infrastructure: Understanding Infrastructure Dynamics in Nairobi, Kenya2017Ingår i: Water Alternatives, ISSN 1965-0175, E-ISSN 1965-0175, Vol. 10, nr 2, s. 283-302Artikel i tidskrift (Refereegranskat)
    Abstract [en]

    In this article we contribute to the discussion of infrastructural change in Africa, and explore how a new theoretical perspective may offer a different, more comprehensive and historically informed understanding of the trend towards large water infrastructure in Africa. We examine the socio-technical dynamics of large water infrastructures in Nairobi, Kenya, in a longer historical perspective using two concepts that we call intra-systemic alignment and inter-level alignment. Our theoretical perspective is inspired by Large Technical Systems (LTS) and Multi-Level Perspective (MLP). While inter-level alignment focuses on the process of aligning the technological system at the three levels of niche, regime and landscape, intra-systemic alignment deals with how components within the regime are harmonised and standardised to fit with each other. We pay special attention to intra-systemic alignment between the supply side and the demand side, or as we put it, upstream and downstream components of a system. In narrating the history of water supply in Nairobi, we look at both the upstream (large-scale supply) and downstream activities (distribution and payment), and compare the Nairobi case with European history of large infrastructures. We emphasise that regime actors in Nairobi have dealt with the issues of alignment mainly to facilitate and expand upstream activities, while concerning downstream activities they have remained incapable of expanding service and thus integrating the large segment of low-income consumers. We conclude that the present surge of large-scale water investment in Nairobi is the result of sector reforms that enabled the return to a long tradition – a 'Nairobi style' – of upstream investment mainly benefitting the high-income earners. Our proposition is that much more attention needs to be directed at inter-level alignment at the downstream end of the system, to allow the creation of niches aligned to the regime.

  • 2.
    Nilsson, David
    et al.
    KTH, Filosofi och historia.
    Blomkvist, Pär
    KTH, Sweden.
    Understanding system alignment: Combining LTS and MLP to investigate urban water transitions in Kenya and Uganda2017Konferensbidrag (Refereegranskat)
    Abstract [en]

    In this paper we want to contribute to a theoretical framework suited for analysing and understanding infrastructural change in Africa, and to explore how such a framework may offer a different, more comprehensive and historically informed perspective, which will be necessary for a transformative shift towards global sustainability. We examine the socio-technical dynamics of large water infrastructure in a developing country, Kenya. In particular, we look at the provision of water to the capital Nairobi and its historical trajectory over the past one hundred years. We also discuss tentative results from an ongoing case study on pre-paid metering in the water system in Kampala, Uganda.

    In our theoretical approach we combine ideas from the fields of history with innovation- and system studies. We revisit some of the thinking once assembled in the global North around how large infrastructure systems grow and change (the Large Technical Systems, LTS) and try to make parallels and divergences to the trajectories of water infrastructure in Nairobi, while we also bring on board key concepts from the multi-level perspective (MLP). Essentially, we try to locate to which level in the system innovation activity has been concentrated, and what has been the main direction of this activity over a longer period of time. For a broad-brush picture such as this one, we draw our empirical material mainly from our earlier historical research, much of which has already been published, as well as other authors. The novelty of this paper is our re-interpretation of the broad transformation patterns which we enable by using a long time perspective and by the recombination of theory and historical observations.

    Our conclusion is that key actors have focussed the continued supply of capital for expansion of the large-scale infrastructure of the system, particularly in its upstream sections. At the same time, the piped part of the water system has become increasingly misaligned with the plurality of sub-systems delivering water outside the borders of the system, which forms the downstream environment of the system. Notably, poor people living in so called “informal settlements” or “slums” have remained disenfranchised to the regime, as they have been defined by regime actors as illegal and thus as externalities of the system. A re-alignment process has taken place in the past two decades through sector reform which has re-enabled capital supply and thus large-scale infrastructure growth. On the other hand, this growth is of a kind that is of marginal benefit to the growing group of low-income urban consumers on the periphery of the large-scale piped system. We suggest that the system exhibits a dual structure of a conservative core serving the middle and high-income population, and with peripheral parts of the system containing a plethora of local innovations. 

    Our proposition is the development of an analytical and policy-oriented framework which focuses on alignment processes between what we argue is the most critical level of system interface; between the established water system (regime) and the peripheral sub-systems (local innovation). If we are serious about universal service provision and the human right to water, we must understand this interface, its actors, subsystems and processes; and how alignment between system levels can be achieved.

  • 3.
    Nilsson, David
    et al.
    KTH, Stockholm.
    Blomkvist, Pär
    KTH, Stockholm.
    Karpouzoglou, Timos
    Lawhon, Mary
    The city beyond the network2018Konferensbidrag (Refereegranskat)
    Abstract [en]

    Historically, the modern infrastructure ideal has dominated the imagination of urbanists. As a consequence, cities and their infrastructures of pipes, roads, wires and trams, have largely been built in the same way all over world. Or have they? Recent urban scholarship suggests that cities and their modes of service provision needs to be re-envisaged, especially in the global South, not just through the lens of the ’situated’ but through disentangling it from the modernist framing altogether. The multilayered challenges - including new types of vulnerabilities of technology and users - experienced by cityregions worldwide imply that a new thought-model is called for. This paper picks up the concept of ‘Heterogeneous Infrastructure Configuration’ (HIC) suggested by Lawhon, Nilsson, Silver, Erntson and Lwasa (2017). In somewhat speculative fashion we go on to hypothesise that Stockholm, Nairobi and Kampala are at interesting historical junctures in terms of conceiving infrastructures and how they distribute power and risk across user spectrums. Are urban infrastructures across the globe being re-engineered from below, but for different reasons? We sketch at a research agenda where grounded and diverse experiences of global North and South will generate new insights for sustainable transformation of cities globally.

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