van den Berg, Caroline
Global Practice on Water
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Fields of Specialization
Water economics, Public finance, Monitoring and evaluation
Global Practice on Water
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Last updated January 31, 2023
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
Getting the Assumptions Right : Private Sector Participation Transaction Design and the Poor in Southwest Sri Lanka(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2006-10) van den Berg, Caroline ; Pattanayak, Subhrendu ; Yang, Jui-Chen ; Gunatilake, HerathThe need for reform in urban water and sanitation service delivery is urgent. Countries are making moves to achieve reforms, bringing in changes to the way they manage utilities, charge for water, and regulate the sector. This paper investigates how a set of basic assumptions on service coverage, service levels, tariffs, and subsidies in the proposed transactions in southwest Sri Lanka held up against consumer preferences. This paper provides the background information and describes the main features of the survey data. The paper then discusses a set of features that were used in the initial transaction design. This is followed by information on the impact of the different household preferences on these transaction features, and what this means in term of redesigning these features to ensure that the transaction would be more pro-poor. Conclusions and policy recommendations follow in the final section of this report.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2012-11) Rodriguez, Diego J. ; van den Berg, Caroline ; McMahon, AmandaThis 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.
Water Markets, Demand and Cost Recovery for Piped Water Supply Services : Evidence from Southwest Sri Lanka(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2006-06) Nauges, Celine ; van den Berg, CarolineIn many countries water supply is a service that is seriously underpriced, especially for residential consumers. This has led to a call for setting cost recovery policies to ensure that the tariffs charged for water supply cover the full cost of providing for the service. Yet, the question arises on how consumers will react to such price increases. The authors illustrate the impact of price increases on consumption of piped water through a study of the demand for water of piped and non-piped households using cross-sectional data from 1,800 households in Southwest Sri Lanka. The (marginal) price elasticity is estimated at -0.74 for households exclusively relying on piped water, and at -0.69 for households using piped water but supplementing their supply with other water sources, with no significant differences between income groups. Those households that depend on non-piped water sources have a time cost elasticity (as a proxy for price elasticity) of only -0.06. The authors discuss the implications of these results in terms of pricing policy.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2006-01) Yang, Jui-Chen ; Pattanayak, Subhrendu K. ; Jonson, F. Reed ; Mansfield, Carol ; van den Berg, Caroline ; Jones, KellyIn the early 2000s, the Government of Sri Lanka considered engaging private sector operators to manage water and sewerage services in two separate service areas: one in the town of Negombo (north of Colombo), and one stretching along the coastal strip (south from Colombo) from the towns of Kalutara to Galle. Since then, the government has abandoned the idea of setting up a public-private partnership in these two areas. This paper is part of a series of investigations to determine how these pilot private sector transactions (forming part of the overall water sector reform strategy) could be designed in such a manner that they would benefit the poor. The authors describe the results of a conjoint survey evaluating the factors that drive customer demand for alternative water supply and sanitation services in Sri Lanka. They show how conjoint surveys can be used to unpackage household demand for attributes of urban services and improve the design of infrastructure policies. They present conjoint surveys as a tool for field experiments and a source of valuable empirical data. In the study of three coastal towns in southwestern Sri Lanka the conjoint survey allows the authors to compare household preferences for four water supply attributes-price, quantity, safety, and reliability. They examine subpopulations of different income levels to determine if demand is heterogeneous. The case study suggests that households care about service quality (not just price). In general, the authors find that households have diverse preferences in terms of quantity, safety, and service options, but not with regard to hours of supply. In particular, they find that the poor have lower ability to trade off income for services, a finding that has significant equity implications in terms of allocating scarce public services and achieving universal water access.
The Use of Willingness to Pay Experiments : Estimating Demand for Piped Water Connections in Sri Lanka(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2006-01) Pattanayak, Subhrendu K. ; van den Berg, Caroline ; Yang, Jui-Chen ; Van Houtven, GeorgeThe authors show how willingness to pay surveys can be used to gauge household demand for improved network water and sanitation services. They do this by presenting a case-study from Sri Lanka, where they surveyed approximately 1,800 households in 2003. Using multivariate regression, they show that a complex combination of factors drives demand for service improvements. While poverty and costs are found to be key determinants of demand, the authors also find that location, self-provision, and perceptions matter as well, and that subsets of these factors matter differently for subsamples of the population. To evaluate the policy implications of the demand analysis, they use the model to estimate uptake rates of improved service under various scenarios-demand in subgroups, the institutional decision to rely on private sector provision, and various financial incentives targeted to the poor. The simulations show that in this particular environment in Sri Lanka, demand for piped water services is low, and that it is unlikely that under the present circumstances the goal of nearly universal piped water coverage is going to be achieved. Policy instruments, such as subsidization of connection fees, could be used to increase demand for piped water, but it is unclear whether the benefits of the use of such policies would outweigh the costs.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 1997-05) van den Berg, CarolineIn 1989, the United Kingdom embarked on one of the first modern privatizations in the water sector, selling assets under license and setting up an independent economic regulator. An important regulatory innovation is its use of price caps and yardstick competition. The author highlights two lessons from U.K. regulatory experience: effective price cap regulation has heavy information requirements, and the necessary data and analytical tools take time to assemble. And such built-in checks and balances as financial autonomy for the regulator and status as an independent government department are not always enough to prevent political interference.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2008-06) van den Berg, Caroline ; Pattanayak, Subhrendu ; Yang, Jui-Chen ; Gunatilake, HerathMany countries are weighing urgent reforms to bring safe water supply and sanitation (WSS) services to hundreds of millions of poor city dwellers. Past reforms, unfortunately, have often ignored consumer preferences and perceptions, resulting in overly optimistic projections of the revenue potential of reform projects. When revenues fall short, private partners may seek to renegotiate their contract, resulting in tariff increases and other changes that increase project costs across the board. Such situations can undermine political commitment to reforms in general and to Private Sector Participation (PSP) in particular. Understanding consumers can help avoid such situations. Different groups of consumers have distinct preferences and perceptions that may influence their decisions about new water systems. Unfortunately, studies of consumers' water-related preferences are often deferred because collecting data takes time and costs money. Often there is pressure to complete reforms quickly sometimes to take advantage of a political opportunity so the necessary research is not done. In other cases, the challenge of increasing efficiency and improving governance may seem so daunting that the specific interventions required to make reform beneficial to the poor may be overlooked or consciously deferred.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2000-10) van den Berg, CarolineThis note, based on the World Bank's Private Participation in Infrastructure (PPI) project database, reviews trends in infrastructure projects with private participation in low-income countries. Four main conclusions arise. Surprisingly, the proportion of countries with at least one project - eighty one percent - is higher among low-income, than middle-income countries. As in middle-income countries, most investment has been in telecommunications, or energy projects. However, in low-income countries, well over half the projects are greenfield. And the scale of private participation in low-income countries, lags far behind that in middle-income countries.
Publication(World Bank Group, Washington, DC, 2014-08) van den Berg, CarolineTo 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.