Paradigms of Decentralization, Institutional Design & Poverty: Drinking Water in the Philippines

Studying Paradigms, Institutions and Outputs

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Studying Paradigms, Institutions and Outputs
Different institutional structures work within their own logic and shape technological choices that have different social outputs. The design of institutions, its funding, and participation of various actors in these institutions influence the service delivery. In the case of public goods like water that directly impacts people’s lives and livelihood, the design of these institutions has a critical bearing on access or denial to this critical resource to the poor. Drawing upon the literature in public policy that calls for decentralization, there is a need to ensure that issues of externalities, information and democratization are addressed in the design of decentralization programs in developing countries. We have seen earlier that as decentralization is not a definitive concept it will be difficult to design an authoritative structure for it. The challenge would be to design institutions that can effectively manage the transition to other decentralization paradigms like democratic and devolutionary decentralization.
The key aspects to catalyze the transition towards democratic devolution is a mechanism to ensure the creation of a democratic design for drinking water projects that will adequately address concerns of equity and safeguards for the poor. It calls for an alternate pedagogy of knowledge where the values and biases of the professionals are questioned and their interests in perpetuating particular forms of technologies and institutions understood. The attempt to democratize knowledge and hold the professionals accountable for their advice and action would bridge the gap between the received wisdom of the professionals and the reality they confront. It would ensure that political and social choices are made democratically and not be part of a discourse that the poor and the marginal cannot comprehend or negotiate with. It is a mechanism that will ensure outputs and create a policy framework that is receptive to a demand driven approach and can address concerns of poverty alleviation and those related to public goods such as drinking water.

Figure 1: Decentralization Axis

Table 1: Different Institutional Arrangements for Drinking Water Supply in Oriental Negros




Cost of Project

P million



Year of



Pop. Covered


Domestic Water Rates Per cu m




Water District Close link with LG. Good professional

backing from 67 water

districts – bi-annual


LUWA 1982

given loan of

P 3.7 m 1999 loan of P19.3 m from ADB. Another loan Of P 23 m from ADB in 2003.

Rehabilitation of spring source,

pump, reservoir

that was built in

1935, ground

water pump &

laying of pipes

& connections.



15 barangays

Pop. 31,206

6,264 HH


10 barangays

3,362 HH

(out of 2,318 HH

in 10 barangays)

Gen Manager, Adm Assistant, Account 2, Customer Ass 2, Cashier, Plumbers 4

Meter readers 2

Pump operator2

Clerk, Store Keeper, Guard 2; Total 19

Upto 10 – P 140

11-20 – P 15.35

21-30 – P 17

31-40 – P 20

41 up – P 24

Arsenic of .07 ppm found (permissible level .05) in ground water. Spring does not have arsenic. As water is mixed piped water has .02 ppm of arsenic.


Association that has Initiated moved towards

Registering as a Co-Op.

No links with LG. Fighting a long case in court to retain independence from LG.


Spring source,

2 Pump house,

250 cum


gravity PWS

In phases


26 barangays,

9,596 HHs

Covered -

9 barangays,

1,183 HHs

Manager, Book keeper, Meter Reader 4, Pump Operator, Plumber 2

Caretaker, Total 10


P 3.75 per mth

Upto 10 – P50

11-20 – P 5.50

21-30 – P 6

30-up – P 6.50

Afforestation for source protection P100-plantation P100-survival P200 after 5 yrs Planters harvest fruits.


Co-operative Society

With close links with

LG. Water works had

shut due to bankruptcy.

Revitalised with LG &

Provincial support


GoA – 2.404

GoP – 3.825

Pr G - 0.386

LG- 0.483

Com - 0.036

Spring source,



MOU 93

Oper 97



New Mgt

May 05


600 + HH

Manager, Cashier, Book keeper, Secret., Meter Reader 2, Pump Operator, Plumber 2

Total 9


Upto 25 –P120

Upto 10 – P75

21-30 – P 8

31-40 – P 8.5

40-up – P 9

Outstanding debt of

P 650,000

La Libertad

LG management. The water work was not handed over to the association as TF misused, contractor unpaid.


Spring source

and reservoir.

No pump so

cheap O&M



29 barangays

Pop 29,979

HH 5,805 Covered

8 baran 1,000 HHs

Collecting Clerk

Plumber 3

Meter Reader 2

Total 7

Upto 10 – P30

Additional – P 3

Of the local income of P 3 m, over P 1 m comes from water charges.


Water association with close links with LG. Well managed - Bank balance of P 250,000 + cash reserve for retirement fund

8.646 GoA – 2.455 GoP – 3.838 Pr G – 0.889 LG – 1.419

Com – 0.044

Spring source 11.4 km away Reservoir 6 km away, PWS.

Gravity scheme

– low O&M.





16 barangays

Pop 27,971 HH 5,144 Coverage 7 barangay 1500 HH Standposts 500

Engineer, Cashier, Accountant, Billing Clerk, Meter Reader 2, Guard, Plumber 2, Clerk, Total 10

Upto 10 – P 55

11-20 – P 8

21-30 – P 10


Upto 10 - P 120

Every year pipeline is extended. ncouraging barangays to provide funding for extension.


Water association could

only work for 1 month.

Thereafter LG took over


Reservoir, PWS





Coverage 3 barangays 432 HH

3 other schemes

serving 134 HH

No clear idea of staff as they also take care of other schemes

Upto 10 – P 30

11-20 – P 4.50

21-30 – P 6

31-40 – P 7 41-50–9

Problem in material standards New project P1m; Loan for augmentation P 3 m

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