A Review in Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan : Benchmarking for Performance Improvement in Urban Utilities

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Performance benchmarking is a powerful tool to make service providers more accountable, and to measure progress while improving performance. This review examines the introduction of performance benchmarking in over 30 urban water utilities across Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan since 2003, with the support of their respective governments and the Water and Sanitation Program - South Asia. It focuses on the process of building systems for performance measurement, monitoring and analysis, and institutionalizing benchmarking as an integral part of operational practice in utilities and government, to support broader sector reforms. The findings reveal that most utilities are performing poorly, and just how dire the state of service provision really is across the towns and cities of South Asia: 1) no water utility in Bangladesh, India or Pakistan provides its customers with continuous water; the average is five hours a day; 2) water utilities do not serve at least a third of urban residents; 3) high nonrevenue water-frequently estimated above 40 percent-means a large volume of water is being lost through leaks, instead of being available to improve and extend supply; billions are lost each year through unbilled consumption and revenue mismanagement. Citizens are carrying these costs, and receiving very poor services in return; and 4) operating expenditure far exceeds income in many utilities, and tariffs bear no relation to costs. Most utilities rely on subsidies and ad hoc grants from government.
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World Bank. 2010. A Review in Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan : Benchmarking for Performance Improvement in Urban Utilities. Water and Sanitation Program working paper. © Washington, DC. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
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