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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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Chapter 2 Assessing Urban Governance: A Principle Perspective


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Assessing Urban Governance

A Principle Perspective

2.1. Urban Governance Assessments

As previously introduced, urban governance for improved service provisions concerns the sphere of the (new) public management of resources, of the state architecture to organise urban service provision and of the contractual and/or semi-contractual relationships amongst the stakeholders entering into the urban delivery process. But it also concerns the sphere of the unofficial and unorthodox arrangements that are increasingly being developed at the local level to respond to state and market failures in service delivery. Two different but complementary assessment approaches seem thus necessary to investigate the two urban governance facets. One approach should focus on the institutional, organisational and political aspects of urban governance, mainly grounded on a more or less complex dataset of quantitative indicators and/or indexes; the other approach should concentrate on how governance for improved services works in practice through informal, local, and community-based arrangements that are better described through qualitative assessment techniques. Does an urban governance assessment tool able to grasp these two dimensions exist? Let’s proceed in a systematic way, overviewing existing governance assessments with respect to their capacity to: first, addressing cities and, then, considering also the informal and unorthodox side of governance arrangements.

If we look at the huge production of governance indicators, we can easily see that measuring and assessing governance encounters many difficulties and an important lack of consensus. A quick look into the UNDP...

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