Risk

Non-cooperative customers

Customers may not assume their responsibilities such as paying bills on time and cooperating with field staff.

Risk type: Consequence

Risk driver: External

DESCRIPTION

Customers of water sector organizations have contractual or legal responsibilities but may refuse to cooperate, for example by not allowing meter readers to access meters of utilities, refusing to pay bills, and so on. This might be due to the customers being engaged in illicit practices or to a negative image of the organization (e.g. because of quality of services, bad experiences with interaction, negative reports in local newspapers and on the radio, etc.).

Water consumers have the responsibility to1:

  • Pay bills on time
  • Allow utilities access to water points and infrastructure
  • Report unauthorized usage, pollution, or interference with water supply
  • Keep water equipment in good condition
  • Report suspicious activities around water infrastructure
  • Pay for repairs or maintenance resulting from negligence
  • Provide feedback on the quality and quantity of services received

In addition, customers might bribe organization representatives to cover up non-cooperative behaviour.

RED FLAG

All:

  • Unpaid bills1
  • Delay in paying bills1
  • Low cost recovery
  • False accusations of corruption
  • Tampering with equipment1
  • Forging of cheques

Utilities:

  • Field staff complaints about harassment in certain parts of the service area
  • Field staff reports that customers deny access to water meters1

KEY GUIDING DOCUMENTS

WASREB, 2010, Enhancing consumer participation in water service delivery through Water Action Groups, Water Services Regulatory Board (WASREB)

Davis, J., 2004, Corruption in Public Service Delivery: Experience from South Asia’s Water and Sanitation Sector, World Dev. 32, 53–71

TARGETED EXAMPLES

Disconnection to stress importance of water provision services2

Target group: Utilities, Public Institutions

Location: Tejutla/San Marcos, Guatemala

‘People didn’t want to pay for their water’, says Marco Antonio, president of the community development council of La Esmeralda (Tejutla/San Marcos, Guatemala). […] ‘We visited everyone and told them that money is needed to improve the service. We also made an agreement with the whole community that if someone wouldn’t pay we would cut off the water supply. We had to cut 2 people off. Then they realised how important the water is. Now everyone pays for their water. But what work it was to convince them![…]’

Informal payments for public service delivery3

Target group: Utilities, Public Institutions

Location: South Asia

Informal payments for public service delivery and household members’ payments to junior staff of public water and sanitation agencies are made in exchange for expediting applications for new connections; quick attention to water supply and sewer repair work; the falsification of water bills; and the provision or ignoring of illegal service connections.

FULL REFERENCES

  1. WASREB, 2010, Enhancing consumer participation in water service delivery through Water Action Groups, Water Services Regulatory Board (WASREB)
  2. van der Kerk, 2014, Construyendo Integridad en el Sector Agua – relatos desde Guatemala, Water Integrity Network (WIN)
  3. Davis, J., 2004, Corruption in Public Service Delivery: Experience from South Asia’s Water and Sanitation Sector. World Dev. 32, 53–71
Last updated 19 February 2019

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