The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in collaboration with Municipal Services Delivery Program (MSDP), Government of Sindh and USAID, released thought-provoking findings of the Willingness to Pay (WTP) Survey at a joint ceremony in Karachi. The survey was a part of ‘Community Mobilization for Improved Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) Services and Hygiene Behaviors in Jacobabad City’ project.
The survey was conducted to determine the factors and their influence on people’s willingness to pay more for improved WASH services in Jacobabad. It aims to support the Government of Sindh in taking plausible steps to ensure the effective running of the MSDP by taking public’s opinion into account in devising necessary actions.
A statement issued by Muhammad Waseem, Additional Chief Secretary – Government of Sindh stated, “Improving municipal service delivery is one of the many challenges confronting local government institutions in Sindh. In some municipalities, the existing facilities for water supply, sewerage, and solid waste management are dysfunctional and require major remedial interventions. Such complexities are better solved through strategic partnerships and this is where I would like to thank USAID, UNICEF and UN-Habitat for their continuous support for the program for improved Municipal services in the city.”
The statement further added, “Armed with the research findings of the WTP survey and its recommendations, we are a step closer to alleviating the concerns of the masses by setting up an effective and modern WASH services structure.”
As the program is aimed at strengthening and supporting the Government of Sindh through MSDP, Khalid Hyder Shah, Program Director – MSDP commended the project’s efficacy bystating, “The MSDP program aims to improve lives of the people of Sindh by developing and mending the water, sanitation, hygiene, and solid waste management structure. I appreciate the efforts of USAID, UNICEF, UN-Habitat and other partners in strengthening our structure and ensuring that people’s opinion has been taken into account. The findings of this survey are critical to designing an effective and sustainable municipal services delivery mechanism.”
Dr. Nargiza Khodjaeva, Chief of Field Staff – UNICEF talking about achieving SDG Goals stated, “The 2030 agenda for sustainable development talks about universal access to WASH services. The target 6.1 talks about universal, equitable, safe and affordable access to drinking water. Our focus initially under MDGs was on provision of improved water. We now need to ensure safety along with accessibility and availability. We therefore should ensure risk management approaches such as Water Safety Planning. Ensuring safety concerns will also enhance the willingness to pay levels.”
Jannat Durrani, WASH Officer – UN-Habitat said, “Any public service delivery system cannot be successful in isolation, unless the people who are to benefit from such a system are aligned with its objectives, and feel part of the entire process. Sustainable, efficient and equitable management of WASH services goes hand-in-hand with the need to carry out a responsible social mobilization and behavioral change communication with the public. This survey establishes appropriate and acceptable user charges for improved water and sanitation services, and takes in to consideration the willingness and ability of people who benefit from these services.”
The WTP Survey looks to create a positive behavioral impact amongst the beneficiaries of the project by getting their inputs under this survey. Through this way, the partners have tried to inspire communities so they realize the benefits of improved services, especially for their children, and continue to pay for service delivery improvements once this project is completed.
The WTP survey revealed that awareness regarding the need for clean water was present in Jacobabad city’s residents; however, people still do not realize the necessity of maintaining proper sanitation and hygiene. Therefore they are not willing to pay for the latter, resulting in ever-reducing health standards.
As majority of the population is willing to pay for safe drinking water, the experts of the study suggest that the base tariff should not be kept higher than PKR 500, while overall charges should be divided into three specific quartiles reflecting people’s willingness to pay. The research further proposed that along with public sector efforts to provide solid waste management services, a public-private-partnership model should be developed to involve the community in this drive to improve lives in the city of Jacobabad.