Abstract

High volumes of non-revenue water (NRW) threaten water security in many developing countries. The traditional technocentric water management regime largely neglects social and systemic complexities that need to be addressed for successful reform. This paper explores the challenges of water sector reform and NRW reduction in Malaysia to identify possible drivers that can accelerate the NRW management reform. The analysis uses a system thinking approach, with key systemic relationships represented with causal loop diagrams (CLDs). Findings reveal that the NRW management reform is influenced by technical, environmental, economic, social, institutional, and corporate governance factors. Using the CLDs, leverage points that can accelerate NRW management reform are identified. Policies and strategies that can accelerate the NRW management reform in Malaysia are recommended: (1) water supply security and sustainable development must be emphasised as the main concern for water sector reform; (2) understanding of the socio-economic benefits of water tariff adjustment by stakeholders is necessary to build political alliances for water tariff increments; and (3) the newly privatised water services providers in Malaysia require an integrated NRW reduction plan to optimise the time taken for NRW reduction and at the same time, transforming their current human resources that were inherited from the previous public water utilities.

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