This synthesis provides a review of operationally relevant findings and lessons from World Bank-supported utility reforms in the energy and water sectors, as identified in IEG evaluation products. The report summarizes the IEG evidence of what worked and what did not work, and why, in WB support of public utility reforms in its client countries. It identifies two fundamental areas of utility reform–improving institutional accountability and strengthening financial viability. The first involves measures to reform institutional arrangements, policies, and regulations; sector planning, utility management, capacity, and skills; and creating the framework for private investment. The second requires strengthening cost recovery, commercial viability, and operational efficiency.

The report compares the effectiveness of Bank instruments (DPOs and IPFs) across selected financial viability targets. It identifies lessons for each sector and cross-cutting lessons for both energy and water operations centered on promoting financial and operational discipline (regardless of private or public ownership), and institutional governance and accountability.

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Pictured at top, clockwise from left:
The main drinking water pipeline for 750 households in Alapars and Karenis communities (Koayk region) being fully rehabilitated. Armenia. Photo credit: Armine Grigoryan / World Bank
The control room at the thermal power station at Takoradi, Ghana, June 21, 2006. Photo credit: Jonathan Ernst/World Bank
Electricity Transfer Station in Kenya. Photo credit: Andrew Stone
Windmill, Nicaragua photo credit: Ihsan Kaler Hurcan
Wegala Community Water Supply and Sanitation Project. Sri Lanka. Photo credit: Simone D. McCourtie/World Bank
Girl gathers drinking water from a community water pipe. Photo credit: Dominic Sansoni / World Bank
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