van den Berg, Caroline

Global Practice on Water
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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 - 10 of 19
  • Publication
    Understanding Demand When Reforming Water Supply and Sanitation : A Case Study from Sri Lanka
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2008-06) van den Berg, Caroline; Yang, Jui-Chen; Gunatilake, Herath
    Many 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
    A Benchmark for the Performance of State-Owned Water Utilities in the Caribbean
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 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.
  • Publication
    The IBNET Water Supply and Sanitation Blue Book 2014 : The International Benchmarking Network for Water and Sanitation Utilities Databook
    (World Bank Group, Washington, DC, 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.
  • Publication
    Investing in Water Infrastructure : Capital, Operations and Maintenance
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 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.
  • Publication
    The Cost of Irrigation Water in the Jordan Valley
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 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.
  • Publication
    Demand for Piped and Non-piped Water Supply Services : Evidence from Southwest Sri Lanka
    (2009) Nauges, Celine; van den Berg, Caroline
    In 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 service provision. Identification of factors driving piped and non-piped water demand is a necessary prerequisite for predicting how consumers will react to such price increases. Using cross-sectional data of 1,800 households from Southwest Sri Lanka, we estimate water demand functions for piped and non-piped households using appropriate econometric techniques. The (marginal) price elasticity is estimated at -0.15 for households exclusively relying on piped water, and at -0.37 for households using piped water but supplementing their supply with other water sources. The time cost elasticity for households relying on non-piped water only is estimated at -0.06 on average, but varying across sources. For both piped and non-piped households, we find evidence of substitutability between water from different sources. We discuss the implications of these results in terms of pricing policy.
  • Publication
    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.
  • Publication
    How "Natural" are Natural Monopolies in the Water Supply and Sewerage Sector? Case Studies from Developing and Transition Economies
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2007-02) Nauges, Céline; van den Berg, Caroline
    Using data from the International Benchmarking NETwork database, the authors estimate measures of density and scale economies in the water industry in four countries (Brazil, Colombia, Moldova, and Vietnam) that differ substantially in economic development, piped water and sewerage coverage, and characteristics of the utilities operating in the different countries. They find evidence of economies of scale in Colombia, Moldova, and Vietnam, implying the existence of a natural monopoly. In Brazil the authors cannot reject the 0 hypothesis of constant returns to scale. They also find evidence of economies of customer density in Moldova and Vietnam. The results of this study show that the cost structure of the water and wastewater sector varies significantly between countries and within countries, and over time, which has implications for how to regulate the sector.
  • Publication
    Performance of Water Utilities in Africa
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 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.
  • Publication
    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, George
    The 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.