Is community management an efficient and effective model of public service delivery? Lessons from the rural water supply sector in Malawi

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@article{5a7e40d4879144cbafa6465afd7d886e,
title = "Is community management an efficient and effective model of public service delivery? Lessons from the rural water supply sector in Malawi",
abstract = "Reform of the rural water supply sector occurred widely in the 1990s, when many low-income countries replaced state-ledservice provision with decentralized community management in the hope of generating improved technical and financial performance.This article asks whether these expected benefits have materialized in practice, and whether community management hasstrengthened institutional capacity at local, district and national level. Findings from a mixed-methods study in four districts ofMalawi show that both technical and financial performance under community management is weak. Maintenance is rarely done,repairs are slow and sub-standard, and user committees are unable to collect and save funds: Average savings are just 2% ofexpected levels. Despite these failures, community management has {\textquoteleft}worked{\textquoteright} for the state (and donors) as a means of offloadingresponsibility for public service provision. The article suggests elements of an alternative framework for rural water supply thatwould tackle the technical and financial failures of community management, and notes that efforts to promote {\textquoteleft}local ownership{\textquoteright}in development must be undertaken with care.",
keywords = "community management, water, sustainability, public service, reform",
author = "Eleanor Chowns",
year = "2015",
month = oct
doi = "10.1002/pad.1737",
language = "English",
volume = "35",
pages = "263--276",
journal = "Public Administration and Development",
issn = "0271-2075",
publisher = "Wiley",
number = "4",

}

RIS

TY - JOUR

T1 - Is community management an efficient and effective model of public service delivery? Lessons from the rural water supply sector in Malawi

AU - Chowns, Eleanor

PY - 2015/10

Y1 - 2015/10

N2 - Reform of the rural water supply sector occurred widely in the 1990s, when many low-income countries replaced state-ledservice provision with decentralized community management in the hope of generating improved technical and financial performance.This article asks whether these expected benefits have materialized in practice, and whether community management hasstrengthened institutional capacity at local, district and national level. Findings from a mixed-methods study in four districts ofMalawi show that both technical and financial performance under community management is weak. Maintenance is rarely done,repairs are slow and sub-standard, and user committees are unable to collect and save funds: Average savings are just 2% ofexpected levels. Despite these failures, community management has ‘worked’ for the state (and donors) as a means of offloadingresponsibility for public service provision. The article suggests elements of an alternative framework for rural water supply thatwould tackle the technical and financial failures of community management, and notes that efforts to promote ‘local ownership’in development must be undertaken with care.

AB - Reform of the rural water supply sector occurred widely in the 1990s, when many low-income countries replaced state-ledservice provision with decentralized community management in the hope of generating improved technical and financial performance.This article asks whether these expected benefits have materialized in practice, and whether community management hasstrengthened institutional capacity at local, district and national level. Findings from a mixed-methods study in four districts ofMalawi show that both technical and financial performance under community management is weak. Maintenance is rarely done,repairs are slow and sub-standard, and user committees are unable to collect and save funds: Average savings are just 2% ofexpected levels. Despite these failures, community management has ‘worked’ for the state (and donors) as a means of offloadingresponsibility for public service provision. The article suggests elements of an alternative framework for rural water supply thatwould tackle the technical and financial failures of community management, and notes that efforts to promote ‘local ownership’in development must be undertaken with care.

KW - community management

KW - water

KW - sustainability

KW - public service

KW - reform

U2 - 10.1002/pad.1737

DO - 10.1002/pad.1737

M3 - Article

VL - 35

SP - 263

EP - 276

JO - Public Administration and Development

JF - Public Administration and Development

SN - 0271-2075

IS - 4

ER -