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This seminar discussed some of the compounded challenges of implementing a donor-driven reform and water resources management in Lebanon, a paradigmatic fragile, politically and socially divided, aid dependent country. Despite a major water sector reform started over a decade ago, and substantial donor pressure to promote it, water resources management remains a core sustainable development challenge for Lebanon. The conditional, generic, and prescriptive approach of the donors in driving the reform was confronted with a fragmented socio-political landscape and weak institutions. This resulted in an ambiguous formulation of the reform, a slow and uncertain implementation, further loss of institutional coherence, and at best no improvement in social, environmental or economic sustainability. The talk shed some light on the various stages of this reform and what lessons may inform future aid initiatives in Lebanon and other fragmented post-war states such as Iraq or Syria.
Rim El Kadi is currently Assistant Registrar-Student Systems at The Australian National University and a Research Associate at the Development Policy Centre. Rim El Kadi’s research interests include public sector management and reform in developing countries, sustainable development, and aid. Her PhD research covered the water sector reform in Lebanon, with a particular focus on the role of aid and development agencies in promoting reform and sustainable development, in the context of a weak state and a fragmented social fabric.