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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 (, 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 - December 2020

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].
After this project began on January 1, 2020, Dr. Nayak began by reviewing several previous studies on 24 x 7 water supply and screening candidates for several positions on the project team, including researchers and field survey staff. In addition, she and colleagues visited the Hubli-Dharwad Municipal Corporation, the Karnataka Water Supply Board, and the Karnataka Urban Infrastructure Development Finance Corporation to introduce the project and begin the process of obtaining necessary data. Further outreach was carried out by team member Dr. Narayan Billava in the form of a presentation on “Tracking Scale-Up of Continuous Water Services in Hubli-Dharwad, Karnataka: Discussion on Urban Governance and Sustenance Issues” delivered at the 39th Annual Conference held at Centre for Urban Economic Studies (CUES), University of Calcutta, on February 7, 2020.

In March, unfortunately project activities were largely halted due to the coronavirus outbreak and mandatory shutdown. Working from home, the team members are currently continuing to lay the foundation for the project, including finishing the conceptual framework, conducting online discussions, and identifying stakeholders and understanding their roles in sustaining 24 x 7 water supply. In the late spring and summer they had planned to procure the necessary tablets to be used in the household field survey, hire research staff, gather secondary data, meet with stakeholders, and train the field survey data collectors, but the COVID-19 pandemic continues its intense effects on the area where the survey is to be carried out. Fortunately they were able to meet with the Executive Engineer, Karnataka Water Supply and Drainage Board, Belgaum Division, to discuss the status of the 24 x 7 project in the district. Dr. Nayak and her team hope to resume their efforts to organize and conduct the household survey beginning in October 2020. A no-cost extension will be made later this year to provide additional time to complete the data analysis and dissemination components of the project.

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