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A Political Economy Study of the WASH Sector in Bangladesh

Paper prepared for the WaterAid Bangladesh
Sajjad Zohir and Umama Rahman.

The paper deals primarily with methods – political economy approach in dealing with WASH.

Unbundling Political Economy in the context of Development Sector

The term ‘political economy’ has been used to mean different things by different people. At times, it is used to imply a knowledge discipline (subject), while many other exercises define it as an analytical approach2. There are multiple variants within the former and there are more than one analytical approach considered political economic.3 Amidst those various strands and their collective dynamics, ‘political economy’ has acquired a new meaning and importance during last decade or two, largely driven by sponsorship from lending and aid agencies. This section reviews selected parts of the bourgeoning literature with a view to contextualize the focus of the ERG study and the approach it adopts. Two key questions are at the center of the review, (i) what does political economy deal with? And, (ii) what are the various approaches in political economic analysis4? The concluding segment in this section elaborates on the various reports to follow under the ERG study on WASH, and how those fit together to provide insights into a limited segment of the vast canvass called the WASH.

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