Development of a Performance Assessment System to Improve Water Services Sector in Iraqi Kurdistan




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De Montfort University


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Peer reviewed


In many parts of the world, the key issue for water stakeholders is the lack of reliable information about the quality of the water services sector and the performance efficiencies of the water utilities’ functional components. Without effective performance assessment over time for the water services delivery, any efforts carried out by the water utilities to improve performance levels have remained directionless, as they deal with results of poor performance rather than investigate the root causes behind them. In addition, currently, there is no standard and perfect performance assessment system which can be adapted to all local conditions. Therefore, each water services sector needs to develop its own applicable system in accordance with its local operating context. Thus, developing such a specific system is a major challenge for most water authorities in developing countries and regions like Iraqi Kurdistan. To solve this problem, this research aims to develop a suitable system for assessing the current and future performance levels of the water services sector in Iraqi Kurdistan from the perspective of the public water utilities. The core objective of this system is to help the water utilities to identify their performance gaps that need improvements. The participatory research approach utilised in this work involved various preliminary activities with purpose to select the final suitable three components for developing the intended system: performance areas, key performance indicators, and acceptable performance targets. The developed performance assessment system was applied to an actual case studies in Duhok Governorate located in the north of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. This study used two approaches for assessing the current performance levels. Firstly, it used a benchmarking approach and key performance indicators to identify the current technical performance gaps individually. This was carried out by benchmarking the achieved performances scores against the performance targets which had already been established. Secondly, it used a single and overall performance index approach to evaluate the current performance in an integral manner. These indexes were constructed by using the Analytical Hierarchy Process, (Max-Min) method, and linear additive method for respectively weighting, normalising and aggregating the selected indicators. Then, this research used the Problem-Solution Tree Analysis technique to diagnose any ii potential root and chain causes behind the identified performance gaps. Subsequently, the proper root solutions were suggested to treat and resolve all the discovered performance deficiencies. It was observed that the developed system was effective for identifying the weak performance areas and their relevant indicators that required interventions. However, five of the established performance targets might need revision to be more realistic for assessing the short-term performance. It was concluded that the absence of an effective water authority was a key root cause that resulted in all the highlighted performance gaps. For example, this root cause led to a low metering ratio (31%), the setting of an inappropriate water tariff system, and allowed improper political interventions. Consequently, the current performance scores for the water services sector were: poor water affordability (0.19% GNI), a high NRW (41%), overstaffing (1.5 staff/1000 people served), a low CRR (0.3), a low maintenance budget relative to the total operational costs (3 %), and a low water revenue collection ratio (71%). However, in contrast, this study also found that some water services delivered well in terms of water quality (97%) and the provision of adequate water (261 LPCD) and exhibited an acceptable level of energy consumption (0.63 kWh/m3 water). This means that the current water services sector in Iraqi Kurdistan focuses only on meeting their customers’ satisfactions, regardless of the utilities’ performance efficiencies, effectiveness and sustainability of their functional components, such as operational and financial performance. This study introduced a novel objective method to develop a suitable performance assessment system and then tested its effectiveness. This research would help the water utilities across Iraq, Kurdistan, and potentially other parts of the World, which have similar operating settings to achieve a sustainable provision of water services.





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