Assessment of the performance of a public water utility: A case study of Blantyre Water Board in Malawi
Physics and Chemistry of the Earth
The Polytechnic, University of Malawi, P/Bag 303, Chichiri, Blantyre 3, Malawi; Civil Engineering Department, University of Zimbabwe, Box MP167, Mount Pleasant, Harare, Zimbabwe
Water scarcity, deteriorating water quality and financial limitations to the development of new water sources affect the quality of urban water supply services. The costs would have to be transferred to governments or customers if water supply utilities are to operate effectively. Utilities therefore need to continuously minimize costs and maximize revenue to ensure affordability and consequently access to safe water. This paper presents findings of a study on the performance of Blantyre Water Board compared to best practice targets for developing countries. The study tools employed in this study included interviews and documentation review. Key aspects studied included unaccounted for water, working ratio, bill collection efficiency and; efficiency of operation and maintenance. The working ratio of the utility ranged from 0.69 to 1.3 which was above the proposed target working ratio 0.68 for developing country utilities. It was found that the level of unaccounted for water for the utility ranged from 36% to 47% compared to 25% for developing countries. The utility was not financially sustainable as it had been making losses since 2002, had a working ratio of up to 1.3 implying that the utility was unable to meet its operational and capital cost; and 70% of all the invoiced bills being collected in a maximum of 340 days against an ideal target of 90 days. The staff per thousand connections value was found to be 18 compared to an ideal value of five. It was concluded that the utility was generally performing poorly as most performance indicators were outside the range for best practice targets for utilities in developing countries. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.
Best-practices; Blantyre Water Board; Capital costs; Collection efficiency; Customers; Ideal values; Operation and maintenance; Performance indicators; Public water utilities; Safe water; Unaccounted for water; Urban water supply; Utility performance; Water boards; Water scarcity; Water source; Water supply utilities; Benchmarking; Customer satisfaction; Developing countries; Electric utilities; Management; Sales; Water pollution; Water quality; Water supply; best management practice; developing world; water industry; water management; water quality; water resource; water supply; Blantyre; Malawi