Regulating water services is not easy. Much work goes into fixing tariffs, setting engineering standards and protecting the environment, which involves a range of bodies - some independent, some sitting within government departments.
Partnership approaches turn out to be particularly sensitive to the set of rules and oversight that govern water and sanitation provision, which not only shape the incentives of those coming together, but can stipulate who can and cannot be a partner. They can open up or close off particular technical and social approaches.
At the same time, partnerships can play a useful role in making regulation effective and relevant to the poor. Decision-makers can use partnership approaches to be better informed or to engage those who would otherwise be out of their reach. This includes marginalised communities, informal and small service providers.
It is therefore crucial that both those regulating and those being regulated think more proactively about how partnership and regulation interact.