Water P-Notes

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These practitioner notes (P-Notes) are published by the Water Sector Board of the Sustainable Development Network of the World Bank Group. P-Notes are a synopsis of larger World Bank documents in the water sector.

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    Deterring Corruption and Improving Governance in the Urban Water & Sanitation Sector
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2009-01) Halpern, Jonathan ; Kenny, Charles ; Dickson, Eric ; Erhardt, David ; Oliver, Chloe
    Governments typically provide the water and sanitation sector with substantial amounts of public money. Monopoly power, public funds, and discretionary decisions, coupled with poor accountability, breed corruption. The best hope for reducing corruption in the water and sanitation sector is to incentivize water sector officials and managers to be responsive to citizens' demands.
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    Water, Electricity, and the Poor : Who Benefits from Utility Subsidies?
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2008-10) Komives, Kristin ; Foster, Vivien ; Halpern, Jonathan ; Wodon, Quentin ; Abdullah, Roohi
    Utility subsidies to consumers of water and electricity services are often justified as a mechanism for making services affordable for the poor. After all, an estimated 1.1 billion people in the developing world lack access to safe water, 2 billion are without electricity, and 2.4 billion without sanitation. But critics object that such subsidies can work against improving quality of service to existing consumers and extending access to unconnected households. Financially strapped utilities are often inefficient, provide low-quality services, and lag behind in expanding networks. During the 1990s, experts urged that water and electricity services should charge enough to fully cover costs. Households could spend 10-50 percent more on water and electricity without major effects on poverty levels, but in many countries much larger price increases are needed to recover costs. A substantial proportion of the population of lower income countries may find it difficult to pay the full cost of services.
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    Economic Regulation of Urban Water and Sanitation Services
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2008-06) Ehrhardt, David ; Groom, Eric ; Halpern, Jonathan ; O'Connor, Seini
    The design of regulation for water supply and sanitation (WSS) services has tended to follow a check-box approach - diagnose the need, prescribe an independent regulator or similar model (often developed in a different sector or country), and hope for the best. This approach has not always worked well. Regulation cannot solve all the problems that confront WSS services, and imported models may not work locally. Regulation must be based on a clear understanding of its capabilities and limits. Its design must reflect not only key principles of regulation, but also local needs, local legal instruments, and local organizations. Economic regulation addresses the problems posed by natural monopolies by compelling service providers to keep costs down, charge fair prices, and provide good service. An effective system also designates an entity to implement and enforce the regulations. Together, these functions remain limited in scope. To complement and reinforce economic regulation, a supportive policy environment and good governance of service providers are required. In short, economic regulation should be designed in tandem with other reform efforts.