Seven Sins against Local Water Management – a GRoW thesis paper

05/03/2021

The thesis paper “Seven Sins against Local Water Management” was published for GRoW by the Institute of Environmental Engineering and Management at the Witten/Herdecke University (IEEM gGmbH).  Drawing on extensive empirical research, the authors identify seven starting points to secure water service performance and prevent sunk investments in the water sector.

Based on the fact that reports on Sustainable Development Goal 6 “Clean Water and Sanitation” highlight insufficient progress, the authors set out to address and research shortcomings in local water management. Building on a detailed review of case studies and publications, an assessment of project experience and case-specific data, target-sample oriented interviews with water utility professionals, as well as an additional collection of expert opinions from science, donor agencies and practitioners, the authors identified seven “sins” that typically make local water management unsuccessful:

  1. Poor incentives for water service performance
  2. Insufficient cost transparency
  3. Neglected demand management
  4. Employment of consultants instead of liable water service providers
  5. Weak local water business development
  6. Investment finance disregarding Operation & Maintenance
  7. Political influence on executive operations

For each of these seven topics, the authors provide comments on why this issue needs to be addressed, and how this can be done in order to achieve good water governance that benefits all. The publication closes with an epilogue highlighting that reforms are not only needed in countries of the Global South, but also in donor countries of the Global North, i.e. within development agencies and multilateral institutions.

The authors of the paper are part of the GRoW project iWaGSS, which contributed to the GRoW cross-cutting topic “Incentive mechanisms in the context of governance”. The full paper is available here.