Assessment of perfomance of Urban Water Supply in the City of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
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The provision of adequate and reliable water supply in developing countries is becoming a challenge for most water utilities especially public service providers. The existence of an information gap regarding the assessment of utility performance and a lack of focus on consumer‟s perceptions regarding the efficiency of service provision formed the basis of this study. The aim was to investigate performance indicators that would best reflect the efficiency of the Bulawayo City Council and to assess the perceptions from the end users. A conceptual framework was developed with 16 indicators in relation to key performance indicators broadly categorized as (a) efficiency of investment, (b) efficiency of operations and maintenance, (c) financial sustainability and (d) responsiveness to customers. The methodology included literature and documentary review and participatory methods such as customer survey questionnaire and key informant interviews. The relative performance of the utility was analyzed based on the Overall Efficiency Indicator (OEI) which is a function of unaccounted for water (UfW) and collection ratio. Customer survey questionnaires were analysed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) while the thematic approach was used to analyse data from the key informant interviews. The research analysis revealed that Bulawayo City Council‟s best recorded performance was achieved in the year 2002 with an Overall Efficiency Indicator of 38% which is still far below the target of 66% according to the Water Operators Partnership-Africa Utility performance targets. Of the 16 indicators investigated only the metering level ranging from 80 % to 90 % was meeting best practise. Among other indicators were UfW ranging from 30 % to 55 %, collection ratio ranging from 35 % to 40 %, overstaffing with a range of 8 to 16 staff per 1,000 connections and cost of water at an average US$0.72 with about 35 % consumer judgement as affordable. However, the system had a number of factors affecting its performance which include seasonal water shortages, customer affordability, declining economic situation during the years 2000 to 2006 and scarce water resources. It was concluded that the system performance is below expectations of best practice targets and about 60% of consumers in Bulawayo generally have a negative perception of service delivery. The most cited problems arising from the perceived lack of response to burst water pipes, the lack of forewarning and explanation for water cuts and the perceived high current cost of water. It was recommended that performance targets can be achieved by strengthening the focus on consumers, providing incentives for utility managers to lift performance and through establishment of a regulatory board to monitor performance of utilities and protect consumer interests.
Bulawayo City Council
Urban Water Supply