|dc.description.abstract||Urban water governance practices have a great influence on the quality of water services delivered. Infrastructural developments need to be complemented by effective management practices in order to realise full benefits of the intended improvements in water services management. This research aimed at analysing governance in urban water services management in Zimbabwe. In particular, the study analysed the legal framework on urban water governance and its implications on resident participation and citizen feedback in urban local authorities. The study was carried out in all 32 urban authorities in Zimbabwe which are classified into 4 categories: cities, municipalities, towns and local boards. The research was carried out as part of World Bank funded Service Level Benchmarking (SLB) exercise. Formal interviews were held with council employees whilst administering a structured questionnaire. Data collection was done between January 2013 and April 2013 which was the period preceding the harmonised elections of 2013.
The results of the study showed that in Zimbabwe there are no sound regulations on water service delivery standards. The legal framework focused on stipulating the powers of urban councils in relation to water supply. It does not go deeper into issues of accessibility, affordability, quality and quantity of the water to be provided. The study found that the current legal framework is weak in that The Urban Councils Act does not have anything on citizen involvement. There is no mandate on public consultations or citizen feedback. There is no provision for standing committee on water related issues. In all the clauses, the Act states that the council ‘may’ make by-laws and thus does not make it mandatory for councils to make by-laws. The legal framework does not give councils a mandate, but option to make by-laws. There are no statutory instruments on the conditions of implementation of the by- laws. There are no clauses on the penalties if a council fails to make by laws or adhere to the by-laws provided by the Minister.
Consequently, the urban councils are reluctant to involve water users in urban water service delivery. Elected ward councillors rarely report back to the electorate. Citizen participation structures are there but there are no monitoring mechanisms in place. The study revealed that in the urban local authorities there are channels in place for citizen involvement including suggestion boxes, complaints desks, stakeholder meetings, customer satisfaction surveys and customer call centres although the legal framework is silent on the issue. Some of the implications of such a weak legal framework are reflected in the existence of ineffective feedback mechanisms and a low rate of redressal of customer complaints.
Based on the findings of the study, it is recommended that there is need for the legal framework to address water governance issues such as service delivery standards and citizen involvement aspects. The elected ward councillors should reach out to the residents and hold feedback meetings at least quarterly. Urban local authorities should conduct customer satisfaction surveys regularly, and have citizen score cards to monitor their performance in relation to customer expectations. Customer care should be prioritised, complaints desk with dedicated customer relations official should be put in place, and complaints should be addressed on time.||en_US