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New Partnerships in Water Security: the overlooked role of foundations


McMahon Patrice


As in most areas of international politics, transnational organizations and networks are increasingly implicated in global water issues. Although some of these organizations, like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Water Charity have attracted a good deal of attention in the popular press, little academic research has focused on the work and priorities of these important transnational actors. This paper will explain transnational trends in water governance and identity new actors and organizations involved in water scarcity and water security, focusing specifically on the role of private foundations and transnational water networks in Africa and post-conflict environments. Although governments and bilateral and multilateral aid are still the most significant when it comes to providing aid for water security, we argue that increasingly water security will be addressed by private foundations, international NGOs and other transnational actors.

Given that the future of water security will depend on collaborative relationships between public and private donors and networks, why have American foundations in particular started to get involved in this area? What explains their funding strategies and are these new partnerships more likely to adopt inclusive practices that better promote local ownership?


New Partnerships; New Technologies; Professionalism in Crisis Response

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Authors description:

Patrice McMahon (PhD Columbia University) is an Associate Professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her research focuses on human security, nongovernmental organizations, human rights and U.S. foreign policy. She is the author of Taming Ethnic Hatreds: Ethnic Cooperation and Transnational Networks in Eastern Europe (2007) and has been involved in several other book projects, including her most recent co-edited book, State Responses to Human Security: At home and Abroad (2014) State building and the International Community: Getting its Act Together? (2012). Her research has appeared in Foreign Affairs, Political Science Quarterly, Human Rights Quarterly, Democratization, Ethnopolitics, and has been supported by the American Council for Learned Societies (ACLS), the U.S. Department of State, the National Research Council, the National Council for East European and Eurasian Research (NCEER), the Soros Foundation, and the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
Her book, The NGO Game: Nongovernmental organizations in Peacebuilding is under review and she is working on a book co-authored book entitled American Exceptionalism Revisited: U.S. Foreign Policy, the Human Rights Record and World Order Revisited that is under contract with Paradigm Press. She is also currently working on two new projects on foundations and women’s empowerment and transnational actors and water security.


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Last update:  14:10 26/04 2013