Japan’s Multilevel Water Governance Export to SEA

Title: Japan’s multi-level water governance export to Manila, the Philippines and Yangon, Myanmar.


This dissertation explores the effectiveness of water governance on administrative capacity through multi-stakeholder partnerships in the context of development cooperation. By applying multi-level governance approach, it analyzes complex governance coordination in water governance and how experts from Japanese cities, firms and development agencies promote norms within transnational networks through local level water development projects in Yangon, Myanmar and Manila, the Philippines. While the water sector in Myanmar is centralized and publicly owned, on the other hand, the water sector in the Philippines has been decentralized and privatized since the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997. Among many water-related problems, high Non-Revenue Water (NRW) rates are critical issues in both Yangon and Manila. NRW refers to water that is lost from the water supply system because of leaks, bursts or theft, which is related to institutional and governance causes. Due to the different governance arrangements in the water sector of Myanmar and the Philippines, how Japanese governance actors engage with water supply problems in Yangon and Manila are also different.
The aims of different water partnerships can be categorized as involving service provision, knowledge transfer and standard setting. By applying norm diffusion in International Relations as an an
alytical framework, the interaction and dynamics of Japanese and local norms in three different partnerships mentioned above will be identified. Amongst constructivist views of norm diffusion, this research takes approaches by Finnemore and Sikkink (1998), Acharya (2004) and Keck and Sikkink (1998). Their approaches view norm diffusion as a bottom-up process, rather than a top-down process. This study presents the roles of Japanese and local actors as “norm entrepreneur” and “norm transmitter”. It suggests that transnational norms do not just diffuse vertically but the process of norm diffusion could be also bottom-up and horizontal, that are created and framed by local actors according to their institutional backgrounds.

Short bio:
Kei Namba is a PhD student in Political Science at Graduate School of East Asian Studies (GEAS) at Free University of Berlin, Germany. She is currently a visiting student at UBC within the mobility framework of “University Alliance for Sustainability”. Her research interests focus on water and environmental politics and development in Southeast Asia and Japan, with an interest to include Central Asia for future projects.