Two trends exemplify recent research and thinking in service delivery: first, the role of small scale informal providers, and second, the politics and governance of service provision. While informal providers may fill a gap left by public delivery systems, consumers are often caught in a low service level trap, and end up paying more for services that are of poorer quality. Moreover, dominant interests frequently have little incentive to change the situation. Drawing upon field research on network water supply providers in a settlement on the outskirts of Delhi, it is argued that this low service level trap can be shifted, and the seeds of change seem to lie in the manner in which relationships between the stakeholders – residents, informal providers, politicians and utility – evolve. The study highlights two factors that enabled a shift: (a): the nature of the service, particularly piped water systems, which are more conducive to collective action; and (b): rising political awareness and competition.
Suneetha Dasappa Kacker has worked extensively on urban planning issues, focusing on growth management, infrastructure and service delivery. Her current interests include processes of governance and reform. She holds an M Phil Degree in Urban Development and Housing Studies from the Architectural Association Graduate School, London. She is currently engaged with the Water and Sanitation Program, World Bank. This work was undertaken prior to this engagement, and represents her personal research interests and views only.
This is the thirty first in a series of Urban Workshops by the Centre de Sciences Humaines (CSH), New Delhi and Centre for Policy Research (CPR). These workshops seek to provoke public discussion on issues relating to the development of the city and try to address all its facets including its administration, culture, economy, society, and politics. For further information, please contact:Marie-Hélène Zerah at firstname.lastname@example.org or Partha Mukhopadhyay at email@example.com