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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 7 Conclusions


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This concluding chapter is divided into three parts. First, we present a comparative analysis between the institutional dimension of urban governance at the municipal level and the informal community-based governance arrangements at the settlement level, based on the common principle framework provided by the UN-HABITAT Urban Governance Index and developed through a multilevel mixed model study. The analysis shows how the new governance arrangements for water improvement in Venezuela – which are based on formal as well as informal collaborations between official institutions (represented by the municipalities and the state-owned water company) and practice-rooted community knowledge and activities represented by the water committees – can be excluded from an urban governance assessment that exclusively relies on official quantitative data and information, such as the UGI indicators. We thus contend that a qualitative analysis focusing on the extent of the communities’ involvement and inclusion in governance arrangements developed around the MTA could usefully, and even should, integrate the UGI quantitative indicators to assessing the real extent of urban governance.

In the second part, findings stemming from the comparative analysis between governance at the municipal and settlement levels are grouped according to some relevant dichotomies between normative and operational challenges, decentralising and centralising tendencies, formal and informal relationships and agreements. The third part focuses on the potentialities and limitations of and possible improvements to the Urban Governance Index as a tool for measuring urban governance, not only at the city level but...

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