ABOUT

In addition to initiating the ‘24x7’ branded target as a means of catalysing institutional change in India (a remarkably successful branding of the challenge but with a tragically limited response in practice to date - more rhetoric than reality so far) Richard has been credited with highlighting the water and sanitation ‘demand paradox’ (that is the donors and suppliers appearing to be rather more committed to WASH than the consumers?). He also coined the label of ‘CapManEx’, in the context of reminding the WASH sector of the need for planned capital maintenance expenditure as a tool for focusing upon sustainability issues (credit for all the other 'ex's have to go to Ofwat of course). Continuing this theme of sustainability, he has suggested the concept of an additional ‘T’ of ‘Timing’ to be added to the OECD’s three ‘T’s’  (Tariffs, Taxes & Transfers) to emphasise service provider’s default position of ‘financing’ services through long-delayed capital maintenance expenditure - that is by not doing it!

 

Much earlier on in his career Richard worked on concepts of sanitation marketing, formalised in his contributions to WHO’s 1992 On-Site Sanitation publication, an approach which took another decade or two to become widely accepted. Though his first attempts at pit latrine slab marketing in South Sudan in the early '80's generally failed to deliver, the round slab designed for easy transport by rolling not being best fit for the rectangular pit that was the accepted design for pit latrines! And there was a suggestion that anyone rich enough to purchase an improved concrete slab would in no way want to be seen to be rolling it along the road - transport had to be by pick-up truck. Outsiders learn slowly.

 

Dr Franceys' five years’ involvement in management development programmes for middle managers in National Water and Sewerage Corporation, Uganda have been described as laying part of the foundation for the remarkable transformation subsequently wrought by William Muhairwe and his excellent colleagues, now being continued by Dr Silver Mugisha. Whilst the ten year MDSUPHO programme for DFID in India with the Government of India, including international exposure visits along with group study work back home and a revise and reflection session some months on, has continued for a further fifteen years, though with less of the frills. This under the excellent work of Professor Srinivasa Chary as “Change Management for Achieving Continuous Water Supply for All in Urban Areas.” Sometimes ideas do stick.

 

The research in four countries into the cost of new water connections, which we called 'Charging to enter the water shop?' to try and make the challenge explicit, resulted in changes of policy in two countries with massive increases in numbers of new connections as a result - congratulations to NWSC, Uganda and Hyderabad Metro Water, India.  When I worried about the subsequent bill paying capacity of the newly connected low-income consumers in Hyderabad Professor Chary reminded that 'the rich don't pay anyway so why should the poor have to pay?!' I am sure that HMWSSB have long since sorted (most of) that challenge.

 

Many generations of excellent Masters students (greetings to all, particularly any who can recall what TANSTAAFL stands for!) remember the mantra that ‘water is a capital intensive business!’ with its EEVERT goal (effective, equitable, viable, efficient, replicable and transparent) across the dimensions of SHTEFIE (social, health, technical, economic, financial, institutional and environmental - see the webpage on this). The slow and critical development of ‘Institutional capital’, perhaps from a ‘just enough’ to a ‘good enough’ service provider along with the PPP expensive short-cut ‘heart transplant’ as compared to the developmental ‘pace-maker’ explanations have also resonated over the years.

 

A major role in Richard's later years with the Consumer Council for Water was to press for 'Fair profits'  on behalf of customers. Arguing over several price reviews that the regulatory target for the weighted average cost of capital was set too high, thereby costing consumers several hundred million dollars annually over and above what might be considered reasonable, let alone acceptable to customers. This issue became widely accepted at the 2014 price review, eventually, with regulator Ofwat making appropriate downwards adjustments to the target WACC. Better late than never for a 'good enough' regulator? On a good day I would even describe Ofwat to students as a 'good' regulator - though 'competition' in domestic water supply would definitely be a step too far for all normal customers.

Meanwhile, and as a welcome relief to all this text I hope, I also get very interested in water history and the rate at which societies invest in improvements to their water and sanitation - this being as a proxy to understand 'effective demand' for water - realised demand being quite different, it appears, from the answers we get from expensive 'willingness to pay' surveys. Please see the effective demand page on the website for two graphs trying to investigate demand through history in one English city.

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Richard Franceys