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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 5 Assessing Urban Governance for Water Services at the Municipal Level


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Assessing Urban Governance for Water Services at the Municipal Level

5.1. Poor effectiveness within an incomplete decentralisation process

Institutional efficiency at the municipal level will be assessed against the two previously introduced effectiveness sub-criteria. One is formed of subsidiarity of authority, availability of resources and the autonomy to meet responsibilities and manage revenue resources (with a specific focus on water provisions), and the other of the mechanisms in place for the effective delivery of water provisions and responsiveness to civil society concerns (vision statement). Assessing these local government characteristics inevitably implies entering into a complex and sensitive evaluation of the decentralisation processes underway in Venezuela, from a political, legal, administrative and fiscal perspective.

Calculating the UGI indicators in Paz Castillo and Cristóbal Rojas reveals poor municipal effectiveness in both local governments (see table 5.1.). Poor performance depends on the ratio of recurrent and capital budget (UGI indicator No. 2) and on the local government revenues from transfers (UGI indicator No. 3), in which they equally score very low, together with a zero score for the UGI indicators linked to the provision of water supplies (No. 6 and 7). In particular, the effectiveness sub-criterion of institutional efficiency in delivering water services and responding to civil society concerns and welfare scores zero in all of the three specific indicators (UGI indicators No. 6, 7 and 8, with a partial exception for indicator No. 8 in the Cristóbal...

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