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Sustaining Reforms in Water Service Delivery: the Role of Service Quality, Salience, Trust and Financial Viability

Jensen, Olivia, Chindarkar, Namrata
Water resources management 2019 v.33 no.3 pp. 975-992
data collection, economic sustainability, funding, household surveys, income, social behavior, water supply, India
The long-term success of water service reforms depends on sufficient revenues being collected from users to allow access to be extended and quality of service to be maintained, given constraints on the availability of other sources of funding. Financial sustainability will be undermined if a large proportion of users do not pay their water bills. Using household survey data collected around a unique water supply intervention to provide universal piped connections with continuous supply in the city of Nagpur in India, this paper explores the determinants of household water bill payment. We consider the importance of global service improvements and service extension, coping behaviours, specific service quality measures, and behavioural factors affecting decisions, including salience, trust and social norms, as well as external constraints. We find that global service improvements and extensions are strongly associated with bill payment, alongside salience and trust in the utility. Our findings highlight the advantages of integrated, area-wise reform programmes in improving service and achieving financial sustainability.