Person:
van den Berg, Caroline

Global Practice on Water
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Water economics, Public finance, Monitoring and evaluation
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Global Practice on Water
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Last updated: January 31, 2023
Biography
Caroline van den Berg is working as a Lead Water Economist in the World Bank’s Global Water Practice, focusing mostly on the economics of water supply, wastewater, sanitation and irrigation water services.  She has extensive experience in the preparation and implementation of investment and development policy operations, and in applied research projects – with a work experience that extends over more than 40 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East.   She works on cost-benefit analysis, financial analysis, monitoring and evaluation, benchmarking of utilities, regulation and pricing, energy efficiency in water projects and public finance mostly in relation to the water sector.  She has published regularly in academic journals.  Prior to joining the World Bank, she was a research economist, financial analyst and project economist in the private sector. She earned her M.A. in macroeconomics from the Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands and a Ph.D. in spatial sciences from the University of Groningen (The Netherlands). 

Publication Search Results

Now showing 1 - 9 of 9
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A Benchmark for the Performance of State-Owned Water Utilities in the Caribbean

2020-01-29, Burdescu, Ruxandra, van den Berg, Caroline, Janson, Nils, Alvarado, Oscar

Improving the management and governance of state-owned enterprises in the water supply and sanitation sector in the Caribbean is critical. State-owned enterprises play a significant role in the economy through their impact on fiscal accounts and service delivery to citizens. This benchmark analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of 14 water utilities, with focus on Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, and St. Lucia. It is a tool for policy makers and practitioners seeking to improve service delivery in the sector, restore or maintain fiscal discipline, and pursue sector goals in a sustainable manner. In the Caribbean region and beyond, building smart and resilient water utilities for the future is a priority. The challenges are complex and multidimensional. Political problems, weak institutions, low capacity, and inefficient practices exacerbate less-than-satisfactory performance. These challenges cannot be met by applying a cookie-cutter approach or by focusing only on standard technical and managerial techniques. Improving corporate governance will increase operational and managerial efficiency. Evidence shows that water supply and sanitation utilities with access to commercial finance are more likely to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. This benchmark finds that many of the analyzed state-owned water utilities are underperforming in terms of coverage, quality of service, operating efficiency, and financial performance. Overcoming these challenges will require long-term measures, with implementation that is likely to be ambitious and challenging. Shorter-term measures targeted at strengthening financial sustainability would involve establishing reliable cash flows that allow utilities to cover their costs. Benchmarking governance in state-owned enterprises varies across the region. Some countries have a strong governance framework with well-developed policies and legal and regulatory frameworks, while others have unclear sector policies and underdeveloped legal and regulatory frameworks. Water supply and sanitation utilities with better-developed governance frameworks usually perform better than those with underdeveloped frameworks.

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The Cost of Irrigation Water in the Jordan Valley

2016-03-31, van den Berg, Caroline

The purpose of this study was to determine the financial cost of irrigation water in the Jordan Valley and the corresponding impact of higher water prices on farming. The analysis shows that JVA needs significant tariff increases to be able to attain a more financially sustainable footing. In case JVA wants to at least cover its operating and maintenance costs in 2013, it will require JD 0.108 per m3 - assuming that the current cross-subsidies and current inefficiency levels remain unchanged. Yet, if the JVA would be able to reduce its billing and collection inefficiencies, the required irrigation water tariff drops to JD 0.066 per m3. The more efficient JVA becomes in providing irrigation water, the smaller the required tariff increases. The JVA can improve its efficiency by (i) changing billing and collection practices; (ii) change in the revenue policies; and (iii) efficiency gains in the delivery of JVA services. The impact of tariff increases on farmers’ incomes is in general very moderate because water costs make up only a small part of the total cost of farming. Certain cropping patterns will be much more affected by the tariff increases than others. It is especially crops that tend to consume large volumes of water (citrus), that will feel the impact of the irrigation water tariffs. Because the agricultural sector in Jordan is under stress, any government policy to rationalize irrigation water subsidies should where possible try to increase the resilience of farmers. The farmer survey found that 17 percent of the survey respondents could be classified as poor for which specific measures may be needed to help them cope with the effect of higher water prices.

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Guidance Note : Public Expenditure Review from the Perspective of the Water and Sanitation Sector

2012-06, Manghee, Seema, van den Berg, Caroline

The objective of this guidance note: public expenditure review from the perspective of the water supply and sanitation sector is to provide World Bank staff with a body of knowledge and good practice guidelines to help them evaluate the allocation of public resources to water and sanitation services in a consistent manner and to increase their knowledge of public expenditure issues in the sector. This guidance note discusses the challenges that are specific to public expenditure management in water and sanitation and the difficulties often involved in identifying sector expenditures. The challenges particular to this sector stem from three factors. First, countries define water and sanitation differently (e.g., drainage may or may not be included, rural services may be considered separately). Second, responsibilities for water and sanitation policy are often divided horizontally across government ministries and agencies, vertically between national and local governments and functionally among the public, private, and non-governmental sectors. Third, the roles of these multiple actors may be unclear or overlapping.

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The IBNET Water Supply and Sanitation Blue Book 2014 : The International Benchmarking Network for Water and Sanitation Utilities Databook

2014-08-06, Danilenko, Alexander, van den Berg, Caroline

Well-run water utilities play an important role in ending poverty and boosting shared prosperity. Consumers need reliable access to high quality and affordable water and sanitation services. To deliver these basic services efficiently and effectively requires high-performing utilities that are able to respond to urban growth, to connect with the poor, and to improve wastewater disposal practices. The IBNET Water Supply and Sanitation Blue Book 2014 summarizes the water sector status from 2006 to 2011. Since 2006, municipal water performance has improved despite accelerated urbanization and the impacts of triple crises (food, fuel, and financial). Overall coverage has increased and piped water and wastewater services became accessible to more people. An increasing number of utilities now actively handle the water billing, collection, and water management through metering. IBNET tools, such as data collection instruments and protocols, the IBNET database, and the IBNET tariff database, enable enhanced sharing of information on close to 4,500 utilities from more than 130 countries and territories.

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Heterogeneity in the Cost Structure of Water and Sanitation Services : A Cross-Country Comparison of Conditions for Scale Economies

2010, Nauges, Celine, van den Berg, Caroline

The main purpose of this article is to compare the cost structure of water utilities across a set of 14 countries with different levels of economic development. As far as is known, the cross-country perspective is novel in this literature. This article first provides new measures of returns to scale in the water and sanitation sector for a set of countries, most of them from the developing world. It is then shown that the probability of a utility operating under decreasing, constant, or increasing returns to scale depends not only on its characteristics (the volume of water produced in particular), but also on the country's level of economic development (gross national income) and business environment as measured by investor protection, the cost of enforcing contracts and perceptions of corruption.

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The Drivers of Non-Revenue Water : How Effective are Non-Revenue Water Reduction Programs?

2014-08, van den Berg, Caroline

To many, reducing water losses is seen as key to more sustainable water management. The arguments to reduce water losses are compelling, but reducing water losses has turned out to be challenging. This paper applies a panel data analysis with fixed effects to determine the major drivers of non-revenue water, which is define as the volume of water losses per kilometer of network per day. The analysis uses data from the International Benchmarking Network for Water and Sanitation Utilities, covering utilities in 68 countries between 2006 and 2011. The analysis finds that non-revenue water is driven by many factors. Some of the most important drivers are beyond the control of the utility, such as population density per kilometer of network, the type of distribution network, and the length of the network, which are largely the result of urbanization and settlement patterns in the localities that the utility serves. The opportunity costs of water losses are also key in explaining what drives non-revenue water. The paper finds that very low opportunity costs of water losses have an adverse effect on the reduction of non-revenue water. Country fixed effects turn out to be important, meaning that the environment in which the utility operates has an important impact on non-revenue water levels. An important conclusion is that the design of non-revenue water reduction programs should study the main drivers of non-revenue water to provide utility managers with a better understanding of what can be achieved in terms of non-revenue water reduction and whether the benefits of these reductions exceed their costs.

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Investing in Water Infrastructure : Capital, Operations and Maintenance

2012-11, Rodriguez, Diego J., van den Berg, Caroline, McMahon, Amanda

This paper provides background information for development practitioners in the water and other infrastructure sectors. It outlines the major challenges related to financing the gap in global water infrastructure, including those systems that provide urban and rural water supply, and sanitation and irrigation services. Water infrastructure finance includes costs for capital works as well as the operations and maintenance costs that motivate sustainable service delivery. Section one introduces the linkages between water infrastructure and growing global challenges, including food and energy security as well as climate change. Section two describes investment needs in the sector and details various traditional funding sources. Section three proposes a five step reform cycle for making better use of limited funding in the sector. Tools for making these improvements are outlined in section four. The paper concludes with section five, a summary of the challenges and recommendations for the way forward.

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Performance of Water Utilities in Africa

2017-03, van den Berg, Caroline, Danilenko, Alexander

Africa’s urban population is growing rapidly. Between 2000 and 2015, the urban population increased by more than 80 percent from 206 million to 373 million people. Although access to piped water increased over the period (from 82 million urban dwellers with piped water in 2000 to 124 million in 2015), African utilities were not able to keep up with the rapid urbanization as reflected in the decline of piped water as a primary source of water supply in percentage terms. The objective of this assessment is to inform Bank and government policies and projects on the drivers of utility performance. The report describes the main outcomes and lessons learned from the assessment that identified and analyzed the main features of water utility performance in Africa. The report includes the following chapters: chapter one gives introduction, chapter two describes the methodology used in the study, including details on the data collection process. In chapter three, the study team undertook a trend analysis of utility performance of the sector. Chapter four examines the efficiency of utilities using a data envelopment analysis (DEA) while also using an absolute performance approach. Chapter five investigates the effect of institutional factors on utility performance. Chapter six presents an econometric analysis of the drivers of utility performance, using various definitions of utility performance. The results from the econometric models are triangulated with a set of case studies of five utilities (Burkina Faso’s l’Office National de l’Eau et de l’Assainissement (ONEA), Cote d’Ivoire’s la société de distribution d’eau de la Côte d’Ivoire (SODECI), Kenya’s Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company (NCWSC), Senegal’s Sénégalaise des Eaux (SDE), and Uganda’s National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC), similar to those that the electricity study team undertook, which are presented in chapter seven. The report concludes in chapter eight with the lessons learned from the assessment.

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The IBNET Water Supply and Sanitation Performance Blue Book

2011, van den Berg, Caroline, Danilenko, Alexander

The International Benchmarking Network for Water and Sanitation Utilities (IBNET) blue book creates a baseline and, at the same time, offers a global vision of the state of the sector in developing countries. By tracking progress in and quantifying and assessing the water supply and sanitation sectors, IBNET helps meet the goal of providing safe, sustainable, and affordable water and sanitation for all. This report serves three purposes. First, it aims to raise awareness of how IBNET can help utilities identify ways to improve urban water and wastewater services. Second, it provides an introduction to benchmarking and to IBNET's objectives, scope, focus, and some recent achievements. Third, it elaborates the methodology and data behind IBNET and presents an overview of IBNET results and country data. By providing comparative information on utilities' costs and performance, IBNET and this study can be used by a wide range of stakeholders, including: 1) utilities: to identify areas of improvement and set realistic targets; 2) governments: to monitor and adjust sector policies and programs; 3) regulators: to ensure that adequate incentives are provided for improved utility performance and that consumers obtain value services; 4) consumers and civil society: to express valid concerns; 5) international agencies and advisers: to perform an evaluation of utilities for lending purposes; and 6) private investors: to identify opportunities and viable markets for investments.