Inadequate availability of reliable and updated data on urban water supply and sanitation services has affected project uptake and allocation of financial resources. With the objective of developing appropriate methods and tools to measure, monitor and improve delivery of water and sanitation services in urban India, the Center For Environmental Planning and Technology University recently launched the Performance Assessment System (PAS) project. At present, the urban local bodies (ULBs) of Gujarat and Maharashtra have been covered under the project.
The PAS project has three major components: These are as follows.
- Performance measurement: Under this component, key indicators have been developed to record service performance across five categories.
- Performance monitoring: Under this, a performance monitoring and dissemination system has been set up to help in decision-making by analysing and sharing comparative performance results.
- Performance improvement: Performance indicators are used to develop city service improvement plans for providing access to improved services and ensuring financial sustainability.
In the past, several government programmes have been launched to improve the provision of civic services with a focus on assessing service performance and project monitoring. While some progress has been made and data on different civic service parameters has been collected, the quality of the data is an issue.
- Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM): The union government launched the JNNURM in 2007 to encourage reforms and planned development in 65 mission cities. Core civic infrastructure sectors like water supply and sanitation are covered under the programme and 470 projects have been sanctioned at a cost of Rs 566 billion. While the JNNURM has led to improved project monitoring with regular quarterly updates, data and analysis of the impact of new/refurbished infrastructure remain inadequate. For instance, information related to quality of water supply is unavailable, which may lead to improper allocation of resources.
- Service level benchmarks (SLBs): The Ministry of Urban Development launched the SLB exercise in 2009 to monitor service delivery performance. These benchmarks provide a standard framework for evaluating service delivery standards in four sectors – water supply, sewerage, solid waste management and stormwater drainage – across 31 different parameters. The SLB initiative focuses on collation of standardised indicators, implementation of management information systems at the city and state levels, and development of performance improvement plans. About 1,400 cities in 13 states notified their service delivery status for 2010-11 and targets for 2011-12. These data points have not been updated so far, making it difficult to assess the progress of cities in achieving targets.
During the past five years, huge investments have been made in water supply and sanitation projects. A robust PAS will assist ULBs to evaluate their performance regularly and identify critical areas of intervention, monitor the impact of investments and set realistic targets.
At the state level, PAS will help in making informed policy decisions related to investment priorities, setting tariffs for different consumer segments, ensuring judicious allocation of water, formulating strategies for reducing non-revenue water/unaccounted for water, identifying areas of improvement (coverage, cost recovery, etc.) and preparing performance improvement plans.
Besides improving service delivery performance, PAS will also help in increasing accountability across three tiers – central and state governments, ULBs/service providers and citizens/consumers.
Clearly, there is a need for outcome-linked funding and monitoring. Successful implementation of PAS in Gujarat and Maharashtra will set the pace for similar initiatives in other states.
(The PAS project is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and is being implemented by the Center For Environmental Planning and Technology University with support from the Urban Management Centre in Gujarat and the All India Institute of Local Self-Government in Maharashtra.)