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PARTNERSHIPS FOR ENHANCED ENGAGEMENT IN RESEARCH (PEER)
Cycle 8 (2019 Deadline)


Conversion from intermittent to continuous water supply (24 x 7) through public-private partnership (PPP): investigating governance and sustenance issues in Karnataka, India

PI: Nayanatara Nayak (nsn.cmdr@gmail.comnsnayanatara@yahoo.com), Centre for Multi-Disciplinary Development Research, in partnership with Karnatak University, Dharwad
U.S. Partner: Emily Kumpel, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Project Dates: January 2020 - March 2022

Project Overview:
 
The World Bank assistance to Continuous Water Supply (CWS)/24x7 in cities of the Indian state of Karnataka is based on contracts signed by the state’s government. Although the CWS pilot project has been successful in Hubli-Dharwad city, the question remains whether participation of the private sector in urban water supply improves service delivery in terms of water availability, quality, pressure, new connections, maintenance, reduction of non-revenue water, billing, and fee collections in the long run, particularly when the project is extended to the entire city. Does 24x7 water supply address issues of equity and sustainability? Does 24x7 water supply reduce waterborne diseases? Does the public-private-partnership model improve the quality of municipal services and their capacities? Has 24x7 resulted in conflicts of interest between traditional water supply institutions? If so, does this impact implementation of 24x7 and its upscaling? These are some of the questions that the proposed study intends to answer.

A study of CWS vs. Intermittent Water Supply (IWC) in Hubli-Dharwad city by Jayaramu et al. (2015) reveals higher satisfaction among customers on water quality, continuity in supply, quantity, and pressure as compared to considerable dissatisfaction with similar parameters under intermittent supply. Similarly, the draft report on environmental and social assessment of continuous water supply project in Hubli-Dharwad also reveals that customers, particularly daily wage laborers in the 24x7 demo zones, are happy, as they need not take time off work to fill water containers. On the other hand, Burt and Ray’s (2014) study on 24x7 water supply in Hubli-Dharwad reveals that the system does not satisfy the assumptions that were expected to be fulfilled with its implementation. The current PEER study will be based both on empirical data to be collected from members of selected urban households and secondary data to be obtained from municipal corporations, local and international private operators responsible for operations and management, financial institutions, and water boards in the sample region. The study is well-poised to address the above mentioned questions and should significantly contribute to ongoing policy debates on continuous water delivery in India, as well as in other developing countries.

Summary of Recent Activities:

8-141 Billava 2020
Dr. Narayan Billava (center, in plaid shirt) at the 39th Annual Conference held at Centre for Urban Economic Studies, University of Calcutta, in February 2020 [photo courtesy of Dr. Nayak].
CMDR was locked down from late April to early July 2021 due to the extremely severe wave of COVID cases in India. With some of the PEER team members falling ill and stakeholders unavailable given the crisis conditions, project activities were minimal in the second quarter. However, the PI and her team managed to finalize their field survey instrument and initiated pilot testing of the survey by telephone. They also conducted a literature review and developed a report on utilities. Conditions improved in the third quarter of 2021, so the team moved forward with their data collection efforts, beginning by training the 15 field surveyors, two supervisors, and one research assistant August 5-8. Immediately after their training was completed, the surveyors undertook the pilot household survey of residents receiving 24 x 7 and intermittent water supply in Belgaum and the twin cities of Hubballi-Dharwad. After the pilot survey was completed, the team carried out the main survey of a total of 2,500 households in Belgaum, Hubballi-Dharwad, and Mysuru from August 16 through the end of September. The Mysuru survey was still under way at the end of the quarter.

The field surveys will be completed in all the selected cities during the last quarter of 2021, and in early 2022 the researchers will analyze their data and prepare a report on their findings. CMDR will also complete focus group discussions with state officials and community representatives within this period, with adjustments possibility required as the third wave of COVID in India may lead to travel restrictions. Dr. Nayak reports that she and her group have discussed the project objectives with the local Water Boards, Municipal Corporations, the Karnataka Urban Infrastructure Development and Finance Corporation, and private water companies in the surveyed cities and included their suggestions in finalizing the survey instruments. All of the organizations are eager to get the results of the study, which the PI and her team will disseminate in workshops to be organized in each of the study cities.


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