In order to reach the Sustainable Development Goals related to water, sanitation and hygiene, the government of Madagascar has drawn up an action plan and commissioned JIRAMA, the country’s state-owned electricity and water provider, to improve access to safe water supply.
Urbanisation in Madagascar
Providing adequate water supply to low-income urban areas is an enormous challenge faced by water utilities throughout the developing world. The importance of this issue will only continue to grow as increasing numbers of people migrate to urban areas: between 2010 and 2050, the urban population in Africa alone is projected to increase from 400 million to 1.26 billion.
The World Bank has estimated that Madagascar has one of the world’s highest rates of extreme poverty, with 92 per cent of the population living on less than USD 2 per day (below the ‘poverty line’) (World Bank, 2014). This is reflected in access to water and sanitation, with about 50 per cent access to an improved water source and 19 per cent access to improved sanitation facilities (UNICEF/WHO, 2014).
Water supply and sanitation coverage are serious problems in Madagascar, where diarrheal disease is the second most lethal illness among children under the age of five. Of the 2.6 million people living in Madagascar’s capital city of Antananarivo and the surrounding areas, more than one million lack access to adequate water and sanitation facilities.
As for many cities in developing countries, the urban population growth rate in Madagascar outstrips the overall national rate due to increasing urban migration. The population growth rate in Madagascar is about 2.8 per cent, whereas the growth rate in Antananarivo has been estimated to be about 4.5 per cent (which may be conservative). The majority of the urban population lives in low-income areas without access to safe water and sanitation.
Improving levels of access to safe water supply in Antananarivo
The current government of Madagascar has committed to the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) described within Goal 6 (WHO/UNICEF, 2016). This decision is embodied within the National Strategy on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene and the corresponding Action Plan for the period 2013-2018, committing to universal water, sanitation and hygiene coverage by 2025.
Since 2010, the capital city of Antananarivo has been implementing a large-scale program to improve levels of access to a safe water supply for the city’s low-income residents. The programme is led by JIRAMA, Madagascar’s national electric utility and water services company with a mandate to serve all of Antananarivo’s residents with a safe water supply.
The program has the following key features:
Institutional reforms and capacity development within JIRAMA aims at enhancing water efficiency and reducing levels of Non-Revenue Water (NRW) in Antananarivo.
Non-Revenue Water is the amount of water a utility produces for which it receives no revenue, because of physical losses (e.g. leaking pipes) or commercial losses (e.g. incorrect billing, incorrect metering and illegal connections, etc.).
In the South zone of Antananarivo for example, JIRAMA reduced Non-Revenue Water (NRW) from 48 per cent in 2012 to 39 per cent in 2015, greatly increasing the amount of water available in the system to serve consumers and generating substantial additional revenue to invest in improved service delivery to low-income urban areas.
The delivery of at-scale water supply to the low-income residents of Antananarivo, as facilitated by the above improvements in JIRAMA’s operational efficiency.
Since 2010, more than 670,000 low-income consumers have benefited from an improved water supply as a result of the program. These service improvements are adapted to the specific context of Antananarivo’s low-income areas. They include:
A) At-scale provision of water kiosk connections,
B) The provision of laundry blocks with water connections, thereby providing a safe space for people providing laundry service to earn a livelihood (95 per cent of whom are women),
C) Vastly improved continuity of supply, up from around 3 hours per day to 24 hours per day in a number of target areas, and
D) A pro-poor household connection scheme, offering customers staged payment of connection charges, thus promoting affordability.
In addition to the above, JIRAMA has recently dedicated USD 1.46 million (100 per cent of the required finance) to strengthen the capacity and commercial viability of the main water treatment plant in Mandroseza, Antananarivo.
Institutional reforms for extending water supply
As mentioned above, the process of extending water supply to the low-income residents of Antananarivo was primarily focused on institutional reform within JIRAMA. The following internal reforms were completed:
- 2010: Initial establishment of a NRW (Non-Revenue Water) Strategic Unit with nomination of Coordinator and staff members. JIRAMA has continued to strengthen and expand the Unit in the period to 2016.
- 2011: Establishment of a dedicated Leakage Detection and Reparation Service inside JIRAMA’s Technical Department.
- 2012: Establishment of Regional NRW (Non-Revenue Water) Units in JIRAMA Regional Centres.
- 2015: Establishment of a dedicated Low-Income Consumer Unit within JIRAMA with operational responsibility for service provision to low-income areas.
Accountability has been built into the program from the outset through a series of Professional Services Agreements (PSAs) between JIRAMA and Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP), a non-profit partnership. The PSAs set out mutually agreed resource commitments: from WSUP in the form of technical assistance and grant funding, and from JIRAMA in the form of finance, human resources, material, and of course leadership.
JIRAMA’s initial aim was to strengthen its institutional capacity and to achieve greater operational efficiency in order to enhance service delivery at the citywide level; WSUP agreed to provide capacity building assistance in return for a commitment to improve service delivery to the city’s low-income areas.
Innovative features of the reform program
A critical component of the program has been the application of innovative approaches to Non-Revenue Water (NRW) reduction. A number of measures have been introduced to ensure JIRAMA has a greater level of control over water flows within the city, notably water balance analyses, and the piloting and establishment of District Metered Areas (DMAs).
The DMAs define areas of the distribution system that can be isolated by valves and for which the quantities of water entering and leaving can be metered. This has enabled JIRAMA staff to calculate the level of leaks in each district, to determine if work should be undertaken to reduce leakage and to effectively target maintenance activities. An estimated 2-3 million cubic meters of water have been saved annually since 2013.
Environmental impacts and benefits of the reform
By establishing a dedicated Non-Revenue Water (NRW) department, JIRAMA has greatly enhanced Antananarivo’s city-level capacity to manage existing water resources efficiently. Improvements to the city’s distribution networks and more effective monitoring of leakages have greatly reduced water wastage.
Revenues from water kiosks provided under the program have been used to cross-subsidise sanitation improvements and maintenance, impacting positively on hygiene and environmental sanitation at the community level.
An environmental impact assessment was undertaken at the outset of the programme together with the municipalities and local stakeholders. Representatives from the municipalities received capacity building training on environmental management. Environmental management plans were established for facilities such as water kiosks and laundry blocks. These plans brought to attention specific areas for consideration and recommendations, including early warnings to communities on possible disruptions during construction, conservation of the local environment before, during and after construction, and ensuring stability of the ground surrounding the facilities to minimise erosion risks.
Social impacts and benefits of the reform
In order to better understand the social and economic benefits of program reforms, WSUP commissioned PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to assess the impacts of water kiosk provision from 2013-2016 and project future impacts until 2025. Key findings related to social impacts and benefits are as follows:
Health: Between 2013 and 2025, the total health benefits from reduction in diarrhoeal disease among users of (WSUP-supported) JIRAMA water kiosks are estimated to be USD 36 million. This is based on the number of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) avoided due to reduced diarrhoeal risk from access to improved quality of water. The total number of DALYs avoided across all water kiosks/laundry blocks between 2013 and 2025 is estimated to be about 2,500.
Time and monetary savings: Net time and monetary savings associated with shorter journeys to collect water as a result of water kiosks provided under the program are estimated to be USD 0.8 million and USD 21,000 respectively.
Livelihoods: Program impacts on women’s earnings were of particular interest in the PwC analysis. Earnings by women are thought to have a ‘ripple effect’ impact because women tend to invest more in education, nutrition and health than men. Earnings generated as a result of JIRAMA water kiosks and laundry blocks between 2013 and 2025 were estimated at USD 5.1m. Women earn 70 per cent of the total as a result of the high proportion of female laundry block operators. WSUP estimates that each washer (95 per cent of whom are women) earns USD 490 per year, which is three times more than before laundry blocks were built.
Additional social benefits of the program include children being able to attend school more regularly as a result of improved health from reduced diarrhoeal disease; increased subjective wellbeing among water kiosk users beyond health, time and monetary benefits; and the net margins of WUAs through water sales at kiosks and laundry blocks – used to fund various community activities including RF2s – estimated at USD 0.1m between 2013 and 2025.
Economic impacts and benefits of the reform
In addition to the very substantial impact of the program on livelihoods, the following economic benefits of the program have been identified:
– Increased revenue generation, profits and wages for JIRAMA resulting from NRW reduction and water kiosk provision.
– Construction sector profits and wages derived from the construction of water kiosks and laundry blocks.
– Indirect (supply chain) and induced (employee spending) gross value added from household income.
Can Antananarivo serve as an example for other cities?
Core aspects of the program in Antananarivo are already on the path to scale-up at the national level. Having established a dedicated Non-Revenue Water (NRW) department, JIRAMA has taken steps to replicate NRW activities in the coastal cities of Mahajanga and Fort Dauphin as steps towards a nationwide Non-Revenue Water (NRW) program. In addition, the World Bank has seen the impact of JIRAMA’s efforts to extend the water network to low income urban communities through kiosk connections in Antananarivo, and is now supporting scale-up of the model in the cities of Toliara and Antsiranana.
An important barrier to the long-term sustainability of these service improvements is the weakness of the regulatory framework in Madagascar. While strengthening regulatory frameworks requires political commitment as well as the involvement of multiple stakeholders, a lesson learned from the program is that municipalities and local service providers will subscribe to strengthening regulatory arrangements in the local delivery of WASH services to enable greater sustainability. WSUP has been able to work together with municipalities and local development committees in Antananarivo to strengthen these regulatory frameworks while continuing to support the Ministry with the wider issues of regulatory arrangements.
In addition to the progress made towards national scale-up, the program has potential to be adapted and implemented in other countries. The activities successfully implemented by JIRAMA are already being successfully implemented in other WSUP locations, notably Maputo (Mozambique), Nairobi (Kenya), Lusaka (Zambia), Accra (Ghana) and Dhaka (Bangladesh).
JIRAMA’s decision to establish a dedicated unit with responsibility for serving low income areas in Antananarivo is another approach that has been replicated successfully in other contexts to provide at-scale service improvements, notably by Nairobi City Water and Sanitation Company (NCWSC) and Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority.
In many cities, local service providers have been overwhelmed by explosive population growth and lack the necessary knowledge, expertise or motivation to fulfil their mandate to serve the entire city. JIRAMA is an important exception: through providing improved water services to nearly 700,000 low-income consumers since 2010, the utility has demonstrated what is possible. JIRAMA has systematically implemented a range of service delivery models, framed by organisational reforms designed to enhance service delivery at the citywide level, all the time balancing commercial viability and affordability for the low-income consumer. The utility is now dedicating substantial amounts of its own funds to embed these service improvements and place the city’s water supply on a sustainable footing.