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The Potholed Road to De-centralization: An explorative study of Service Delivery in Karachi


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Presented by Kabeer Dawani (CSSR) and Ammar Khalid (IDEAS) at 10th Annual LUMS HSS Conference, March 2016

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The Potholed Road to De-centralization: An explorative study of Service Delivery in Karachi

  1. 1. Ammar Khalid (IDEAS) and Kabeer Dawani (CSSR) THE POTHOLED ROAD TO DECENTRALIZATION: AN EXPLORATIVE STUDY OF SERVICE DELIVERY IN KARACHI 1 Presented at the 10th Annual HSS LUMS Conference, Lahore on 5th March 2016
  2. 2. Introduction • There has been a global trend of countries decentralizing state responsibilities to lower tiers of government • Emerging realization that centralized service delivery is “systematically failing - and especially failing poor people.” (Ahmed et al, 2005) • Our work focuses on the relationship of decentralization and urban service delivery 2
  3. 3. Introduction • Pakistan has urbanized rapidly in recent decades – some claim that more than half of Pakistan is now urbanized. • Karachi has grown exponentially over the years, putting stress on its resources and its ability to deliver services. • One of the benefits of decentralization, widely cited in the literature, is the increase in accountability, and subsequently improved service delivery. 3
  4. 4. Literature on Decentralization • Three types of decentralization: • Fiscal • Administrative • Political • Proponents of decentralization argue that it results in (Tanzi, 1995) • Greater accountability • Allocative efficiency due to proximity to beneficiary • However, decentralization can face problems (Ahmad et al, 2005) • Elite capture • Lack of capacity at the sub-national level • Misaligned responsibilities • No consensus on efficiency of decentralization with regards to service delivery, particularly in Pakistan 4
  5. 5. Gaps in the Literature • Vast literature on decentralization and economic development in the past decade and a half on Pakistan. • However, two areas have largely been unexplored in Pakistan • Service delivery in urban areas • Within service delivery, there has been an overwhelming focus on social service delivery (education and health), as opposed to municipal service delivery (roads, sanitation etc). • In addition to the gap in the literature, the importance of assessing municipal service delivery is two-fold: • Zahid Hasnain (2010) identifies that local government priorities are heavily tilted towards municipal services • Deprivations in municipal service delivery contribute to poverty (Cheema and Mohmand 2004). 5
  6. 6. Our research • Compares service delivery under LGO 2001 to the centralized governance following its lapse in 2010. • We decided to focus on four municipal services: • Water • Solid Waste • Roads • Sewerage • Exploratory study, not representative of Karachi. • Interviewed 56 people in early 2014 • For our field research we chose Akhtar Colony • Akhtar Colony is an ethnically diverse, lower-middle income settlement adjacent to DHA Phase 1. 6
  7. 7. Site for Field Research – Akhtar Colony 7
  8. 8. Service Delivery Improvements • We found that overall service delivery was better under the decentralized governance setup, as compared to the period following 2010 • However, for the four public goods that we were examining, the improvement in service delivery was not uniform. Aslam and Yilmaz (2011) reach a similar conclusion for rural Pakistan. 8
  9. 9. Water - I • An overwhelming majority of our respondents cited the shortage of water supply as the most pressing problem in the area • Till 2008, the provision of water was satisfactory. • After 2008, however, delivery of water reduced significantly. • Respondents alleged that because the area did not vote for MQM, the MQM was diverting water away from the area, towards DHA and Qayyumabad. • “KWSB chief engineer Najm-i-Alam Siddiqui said some mischievous elements carried out valve operation on their own, adding that tampering with the valve - through which water was supplied to both Qayyumabad and Akhtar Colony - often caused a water shortage in Akhtar Colony.” – Dawn report, 06th June 2009. 9
  10. 10. Water - II • Residents protested in 2009 and 2010 – they were suppressed forcibly by the state • This goes to show that contestation goes beyond UC level. • At the time of research, 89% respondents were procuring water through unofficial means – water tankers and boring, primarily. 10 Source:
  11. 11. Solid Waste • Area cleaner under the local government set up. • The UC administration had 4 sweepers designated for the area. • Following 2010, garbage was predominantly collected by individuals of Afghan origin employed by the residents. Three quarters of our respondents resorted to this in the absence of official collection. 11
  12. 12. Roads and Sewerage - I • Road conditions poor in general, and declined after 2010. Only one instance of major road development. • Sewerage pipelines were laid in the area in 2008 by the UC administration, before which there were open sewers. • In light of the older sewerage lines proving to be inadequate, in the run up to the 2013 general elections, the PPP laid a new set of sewerage lines parallel to the older lines. • Partisan delivery: These lines were laid only in the areas where PPP voters resided, i.e. Sectors C, D and E. 12
  13. 13. Roads and Sewerage - II • Political contestation over these two services. • The PPP laid new sewerage pipelines in the area in the run up to the 2013 general elections. • This, however, uprooted the main road that the MQM had re- laid only a few months prior. • Respondents reported that MQM workers had subsequently tried to block these new pipelines by “dumping rocks, blankets and pillows” into the sewers 13
  14. 14. Discussion - I • We found that, in accordance with the literature, lower tiers of government did have an efficiency advantage as compared to higher tiers of government (Nguyen, 2008; Tanzi, 1995) • The first avenue of complaint was the local UC office. However, a significant number of complaints were not resolved because the officials claimed to not have the resources. • One reason for the lack of funds at the UC officials’ disposal was because the UC government was formed by a different party than the one in power at the city level (JI, MQM). 14
  15. 15. Discussion - II • We argue that local governments should be empowered through fiscal decentralization. • However, it is crucial that before fiscal decentralization takes place, local capacity building is undertaken to prevent mismanagement and high corruption (Fjelstad, 2001; Mehmood and Sadiq, 2010) • We found service delivery to be along partisan lines following 2010. This can lead to greater polarization thereby increasing the risk of political violence (Esteban and Schneider, 2008). Thus, it is important to strengthen institutions of service delivery, such as local governments. 15
  16. 16. Conclusion and Way Forward • To conclude, despite delivery being uneven for the four services under consideration, overall service delivery was better under a decentralized set up. • Further avenues of study • Given that this study is not representative of Karachi as a whole, it will be important to conduct a city-wide study that assesses service delivery outcomes. • Compare service delivery between ethnically heterogeneous and homogenous areas. Some scholars argue that ethnically heterogeneous areas are worse off than homogenous areas (Chandra, 2007) • Elite capture is often cited in the literature as a reason for the failure of decentralization, particularly in Pakistan’s rural areas. However, this needs to be explored further for the urban context. 16
  17. 17. THANK YOU Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Husnain Habib Malik for his immense contribution to the research, without whom this would not have been possible, and to Dr. Hassan Javid for his advice throughout the research process. 17