Box 7.Urban governance in Recife: Municipal Water and Sanitation Policy
The social control and reforms in Recife, Brazil was ignited at the 1st Municipal Conference on Water and Sanitation called by the City Mayor to decide on Recife’s municipal water and sanitation policy, as well as to design the scope of a public control mechanism for the management. The state (provincial) level public utility, Compesa, has had a record of poor performance. Only 88% of the households are connected to the regular water supply network yet regular planned cut-offs to deal with water shortages were common features. The state of sanitation was worse, only 27% of the households had any form of sewer coverage since 1970. Wastewater treatment was available for only 10% of the population.
Based on the decisions of the conference, the Mayor introduced a direct democracy mechanism for strategic decision-making and the department of municipal water and sanitation services. He was also able to declare his opposition to Compesa’s privatisation in negotiating for a US$84 million loan from the World Bank for infrastructure investments in Recife and the neighbour city of Olinda.The Mayor established a new system to monitor and oversee the state water supply agency – Compesa – working with the state government to keep Compesa as a public provider but under the city’s social control mechanisms to improve Compesa’s performance (rather than the city hall offering a new institutional arrangement for water supply). The World Bank accepted Recife’s proposal.
Box 8 Urban governance from below: insights from a selection of successful examples of water and sanitation improvement.
Four case studies are considered here. Neither health nor health equity has ever been the primary objective for any of these initiatives, but all have been concerned to improve well being in unhealthy settlements. The initiatives have the following features in common:
They have all had a significant influence on water and/or sanitation provision at a city or national scale.