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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 6 Low-income Communities’ Involvement in Local Governance for Improved Water Provisions


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Low-income Communities’ Involvement in Local Governance for Improved Water Provisions

Let’s now move to the local governance arrangements within low-income communities, to see how governance for improved urban water provisions works in practice. The principle framework of the Urban Governance Index, and the relative indicators, have been translated in a qualitative methodological approach at the settlement level, as presented in chapter 4. Unlike the assessment of urban governance at the municipal level, through quantitative indicators and factual data, the boundaries between the four UGI principles are even less clear-cut and easily circumscribable at the community level. This makes it quite challenging to elaborate a precise and unequivocal description of how these principles might work at the settlement level, while also featuring cross-references but also possible repetitions. Where applicable, we will avoid useless repeats, rather indicating where each specific issue is analysed in detail in the chapter.

6.1. Effectiveness of urban governance on the ground: case by case

Effectiveness of local governance arrangements amongst the municipality, the water company and the MTA in the delivery of drinking water is assessed against the capacity of formal and informal governance mechanisms developed around the technical water committees to bring about improvements in the effective delivery of safe drinking water, in the enhanced community development within the settlement, and in the responsiveness to community concerns. Results on the ground greatly vary in the two analysed settlements, according to previous water access...

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