Is the private sector more efficient? A cautionary tale

Sumedh Rao

This review finds no conclusive evidence that one model of ownership (i.e. public, private or mixed) is intrinsically more efficient than the others, irrespective of how efficiency is defined. Instead the literature suggests that the efficiency of service provision is dependent on the type of service (health, education, etc.) and other specific contextual factors (e.g. ...» more

Service delivery

UNAMID Delivers Water to Darfur Students during Exam Period

Equitable access to essential public services is vital for human development, inclusive growth, and tackling persistent inequality. This topic guide provides an overview of the best available evidence on inclusive service delivery. It includes lessons from cases where aid has been effective at addressing weak front-line incentives, where services have been delivered in very ...» more

The technical is political: understanding the political implications of sector characteristics for the delivery of drinking water services

Nathaniel Mason, Daniel Harris, Richard Batley

This brief aims to help bridge the gap between governance and sector specialists by examining the politics and governance of water supply through a technical, ‘sector characteristics’ lens. The characteristics of sectors have largely been considered technicalities, but new research is illustrating that they also have political implications.The study focuses on drinking water ...» more

Double Dividends: Exploring how Water, Sanitation and Hygiene programmes can contribute to peacebuilding and statebuilding


The evidence base for precisely how, and to what extent, basic service delivery, and in particular water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), can contribute to peacebuilding and statebuilding (PBSB) is extremely limited. To address this lack of evidence, DFiD funded Tearfund and ODI to assess the implications of this new thinking for Tearfund’s WASH work in the Democratic Republic ...» more

The Politics of Progress on Water and Sanitation in Colombo, Sri Lanka

Claire Mcloughlin, Daniel Harris

This study explores the politics of urban water supply and sanitation delivery in the city of Colombo, Sri Lanka, where improvements in coverage have been achieved within a national context characterised by almost three decades of civil war. Though Colombo is by no means an unqualified success, or representative of the country as a whole, this isolated case offers an ...» more

Examining the role of WASH services within peace- and state- building processes: findings from Tearfund programmes in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of South Sudan

Leni Wild, Nathaniel Mason

This research focuses on Tearfund’s water supply, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) interventions implemented through the ‘Capacity Building to Improve Humanitarian Action in the Water Sanitation and Hygiene’ programme. The programme aims to increase the capacity of Tearfund Operational Teams, local partner projects and local government departments in conflict-affected and ...» more

Approaches to Conducting Political Economy Analysis in the Urban Water Sector

Seema Manghee, Alice Poole

This report provides guidance on conducting political economy analysis in the urban water sector, highlighting lessons from case studies. The cases span successful reforms, such as in Chile and Senegal; reforms where the results are still incomplete or have not been replicated, such as Ghana and Panama; and those where reforms are pending, such as Pakistan. The paper identifies ...» more

Access to Water in the Slums of Sub-Saharan Africa

Hulya Dagdeviren, Simon A. Robertson

This paper examines the limitations of private-sector-oriented solutions to water supply in informal settlements and argues that market-oriented solutions are inappropriate for sub-Saharan African countries where over two-thirds of the urban population live in squatter settlements with multidimensional challenges. There are particular concerns over the pricing, regulation, and ...» more

Pipe Dreams? The Governance of Urban Water Supply in Informal Settlements, New Delhi

Suneetha Dasappa Kacker, Anuradha Joshi

Based on fieldwork on urban water supply in New Delhi, this paper shows that while informal providers fill a gap left by the public utility, residents can remain captive consumers with limited ability to influence service quality or price.In this case, residents were successfully able to organise themselves to drive improvements to services through a gradual evolution of their ...» more

Development Aid and Access to Water and Sanitation in Sub-Saharan Africa

Adeleke Salami, Marco Stampini, Abdul B. Kamara (eds)

Net ODA disbursement to SSA has more than doubled in real terms since 1980, mostly during the last 10 years. However, the increase in aid has not been matched by commensurate progress in WSS provision. Key recommendations include improved monitoring and evaluation systems and capacity building, and longer project timelines.This book examines: the current level of water supply ...» more

Output-based aid in water and sanitation

Output-based aid (OBA) is one of a range of results-based financing approaches which aims to improve development outcomes by linking the disbursement of aid money to achievement of specified outputs by service delivery partners. There is considerable experience with OBA in the transport sector and in Latin America, but very little experience and evidence in the water and ...» more

Regulating water services for all in developing economies

Esther Gerlach, Richard Franceys

Economic regulation is being introduced into the water services sector in developing economies, where widespread poverty and service inadequacies affect regulatory rationales. This paper analyses the regulatory experience in 11 metropolitan areas with respect to the challenge of reaching all urban consumers, particularly the poor.Evidence suggests that pro-poor regulatory ...» more

Improving Water Utility Services through Delegated Management: Lessons from the utility and small-scale providers in Kisumu, Kenya

Water and Sanitation Program, World Bank

How can adequate water and sanitation services be provided in poor urban areas? Partnerships with small-scale providers are increasingly important as utilities struggle to serve a growing population, particularly the poor. This field note from the World Bank's Water and Sanitation Program explores a successful delegated management approach being used in Kisumu, Kenya’s third ...» more

Improving Transparency, Integrity, and Accountability in Water Supply and Sanitation: Action, Learning, Experiences

John Butterworth, Donald O'Leary, María González de Asís

What can individual professionals do to address corruption in the water and sanitation sector? Module 3 of this World Bank book outlines 'Tools for Addressing Corruption in the Water and Sanitation Sector', including how to select appropriate tools for different situations. It focuses on cases from Honduras and Nicaragua. Strategies to improve transparency in decision making, ...» more

Reforming Urban Water Utilities in Western and Central Africa: Experiences with Public-Private Partnerships: Impact and Lessons Learned

Matar Fall et. al.

What has been the impact of public-private partnerships (PPPs) on urban water quality and access in Central and Western Africa? This report from the World Bank examines fifteen countries throughout the region, analysing different models and drawing out lessons learned. It concludes that public-private partnerships have had a positive impact on access, reliability, and cost of ...» more

Governance failure: rethinking the institutional dimensions of urban water supply to poor households

Karen Bakker, Michelle Kooy

This paper examines factors that explain the persistent failure of both public and private water supply system operators to achieve high rates of individual network connections to poor households in urban areas.Much of the recent literature has focused on the “ownership” versus “institutions” debate, and the relative merits of public versus private management of water supply ...» more

Sanitation: A Human Rights Imperative


What are the barriers to transforming the sanitation sector and what role can the right to sanitation play in removing them. This paper defines sanitation in human rights terms that would assist governments to implement appropriate sanitation standards. Governments should clarify the roles and responsibilities of sanitation and insist on adequate sanitation in housing. Improved ...» more

Water as a Human Right for the Middle East and North Africa

Antonio Embid

What is the 'right to water', and how may this right be realised? This article explores the juridical basis of the right to water in international law, tracking its evolution and analysing some of the difficulties in its fulfilment, particularly with regard to Spanish domestic law. Achieving the right to water will necessitate overcoming poverty, and will always be impacted by ...» more

Political Economy Reforms: Learning from the Delhi Water Experience

Avjeet Singh

How do you introduce and sustain change in a society, like India, where there is a strong indigenous tradition and deep-rooted corruption? This research from the World Bank looks at efforts to reform the water sector in Delhi. It suggests that moving from policy rhetoric to its acceptance is always difficult. But instead of simply blaming the system for problems of ...» more