Promise and Pitfalls
Edited by Anka Kekez, Michael Howlett and M Ramesh
Chapter 6: Impact of state–civil society co-management contracts on water supply in rural India: evidence from a natural experiment
In this study we investigate the impact of contracting operations and maintenance services to a community-based civil society organization (CSO) through state-nonstate co-management contracts on repair and maintenance of handpumps in two rural sub-districts of Gujarat. We use survey data collected in a unique natural experiment setting, where geographic variation in contractual relationships is induced by a competitive tendering process. We find that the quality of handpump repair and maintenance in villages served by the CSO contractor is better than in villages served by a private contractor. Further, we find that engaging CSOs can bring about equity in access to water. We also find that service quality significantly reduces the time spent collecting water thus increasing household welfare. Our findings thus suggest that innovative state-nonstate contractual relationships such as co-management can prove to be an effective tool in providing, managing, and expanding public services.
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