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Assessing Urban Governance

The Case of Water Service Co-production in Venezuela


Luisa Moretto

When examining the relationship between urban governance and improved service provision in the Global South, there is frequently a gap between the rhetoric and the reality. Informal, practice-based local governance processes that aim to produce better urban services often diverge from official governance prescriptions and mechanisms for service delivery within the institutional sphere. This book explores the complex area of urban governance assessment, focusing on the issue of sustainable water supplies for the urban poor.
Adapting the UN-Habitat Urban Governance Index, the author explores the dual nature of urban governance, analyzing its formal dimension at the municipal level but also taking account of informal and locally specific governance arrangements aimed at improving access to basic services. Water service co-production strategies involving both public institutions and organized groups of citizens in Venezuela provide an excellent case study of this phenomenon. The book illustrates the limitations of official governance assessment tools in appreciating the extent and vibrancy of local practices and agreements, as well as investigating the discrepancies between normative prescriptions and governance arrangements on the ground.
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First of all, I am genuinely indebted to Marcello Balbo, professor at the University IUAV of Venice, Italy, who has always been available to meet up and discuss my research, as well as read and comment on the chapters that made up the previous version of this book. I am also very grateful to Julio Davila, professor at the Developing Planning Unit, University College London, for his valuable help in conducting my research and for sharing his experience with me. I am also grateful to two professors I met at the CENDES, Centro de Estudios del Desarrollo, Universidad Central de Venezuela: Miguel Lacabana, who illustrated the findings of his research, orientated my work on the ground and provided the indispensable community leader contacts through which to undertake the fieldwork; and Marianela Carillo for physically introducing me in the communities studied. I would also like to express my gratitude to Shipra Narang, Vice President at ISOCARP, the International Society of City and Regional Planners, and to Sylvy Jaglin, professor at the Université Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée, for their precious comments on the first version of this research, which helped me immensely in finalising my work.

It would have not been possible to conduct this research without the welcome, availability and support of the community members in the two Venezuelan settlements where the fieldwork was conducted. In particular, Elena, Yunilde and Gladys, who let me stay in their homes and always took care of me; they spent their time...

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