Padrão de Negociação Flexível de Débito (Flexible Debit Negotiation Standard)
Empresa Baiana de Águas e Saneamento S. A.

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
In the year 2013, the Empresa Baiana de Águas e Saneamento S.A.- Embasa carried out an income and user (customer) behavior diagnosis regarding the payment of water supply and sanitation services bills. It was evidenced a strong correlation of income with bill payment, where the low-income regions had high default indexes, and families with difficult regular access to services. On the other hand, it was also noticed that the negotiation instruments in force barely considered the socio-economic conditions of the needy families. This condition made it difficult the access by considerable part of Bahia's population to the regular services of water supply and sanitation, once people who didn't normalize their situation consume water in a disordered way and dispose of sewage without proper treatment. Situations of irrational water use, fraud incidents in the connections of public water services, and undue destination of sewage damage directly the public health of a population, in addition to damaging the operation quality of the supply systems. Therefore, in 2013 Embasa visualized a critical scenario with many people without regular access to water supply and sanitation services and with high level of default, made up by debits considered as unpayable, mainly occasioned by users located in low-income regions in the State of Bahia; this unfavorable socio-economic situation, which reached a considerable part of Bahia's population, contributed directly to irregular water consumption and sewage disposal. Though Embasa already acted with traditional debit negotiation tools, besides of providing the social tariff (almost 55% cheaper than the regular tariff), oriented to those in need, an innovative and distinctive action was necessary, oriented to this share of socially and economically needy population, in a way to insert it or bring it back to the regularity of their water supply services with quality, in accord with the essential human right to drinking water and basic sanitation (Resolution no. 64/292 - General Assembly of the United Nations –UN, 2010). Considering that many people have an actual interest in being compliant with the water supply and sanitation services, but with low economic conditions to honor their commitments, the initiative Padrão de Negociação Flexível de Débito (Flexible Debit Negotiation Standard) was created, aiming to provide a negotiation that could consider the payment capacity by low-income people and communities, enabling the regular access to Embasa's services. Therefore, the main initiative motivating factors were the poor families, located at Embasa's concession area, users or non-users of the company's sanitation services, with low socio-economic condition to pay the bills and, consequently, without access to sanitation services offered or living in an irregular situation in their community and with the company, using the water and sewage disposal in an irrational way, often damaging the public health.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
Innovative solution to incorporate new and recover former users, living in unfavorable socio-economic conditions, making them regular and compliant with the access of water supply and sanitation services with quality, contributing directly to the health improvement and promotion of a life standard with more dignity; Creation of a flexible model to assess the people's payment capacity and enable the debit normalization, considering proposals that were inserted in the neediest families' budgets; Model application with the development of a system tool (application) that could enable to estimate the user income, based on the estate's power consumption and the number of residents, inferring an income commitment percentage with the water services, sanitary sanitation and negotiation installment.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
Embasa checked that the difficulty of incorporation of new families and recovery of defaulting users, in most part, was shown by the inability to pay for the services or already existing debits and considered as unpayable, under a perspective of social, cultural and economic issues of low-income regions. With a mission of universalizing its public services, the company's challenge was to present innovative alternatives, in addition to the traditional debit negotiation tools, which could ensure to the neediest users the access to the services in a regular way, contributing directly to the promotion of a quality of life improvement of this economically and socially vulnerable population. Therefore, in February 2014, it was started the operationalization of Padrão de Negociação Flexível de Débito (Flexible Debit Negotiation Standard) by Embasa, a solution that aims to adapt the low-income user's debit to their payment capacity, aiming especially their inclusion or return to regular access to water supply and sanitation services with quality. The new solution enabled a greater flexibility in the proposals and agility in the negotiation processes, without needing to process in higher courts to approve special cases that needed partial discount of debits. From the beginning of its operationalization, in February 2014, until December 2016, the Padrão de Negociação Flexível de Débito (Flexible Debit Negotiation Standard) enabled 22,201 low-income families to negotiate their debits, with an average 85% decrease to adapt to their payment capacities. These families who negotiated their debits became regular with Embasa again, accessing water supply and sanitation services with quality, contributing effectively to the improvement of public health. A considerable part of these people's CPF were also enrolled in credit protection companies, due to the lack of payment to the company, and their credits were released in the market again, accessing other goods and services in society. With the initiative, it´s expected that the irregular situations of water supply and sanitation, for example the illegal connections, be considerably minimized, improving the service provision (supply improvement, loss reduction, among other), which benefits the general population in Bahia. Another important fact is that people who pay their bills in time tend to use the water supply and sanitation services in a more rational and aware way, which contributes directly to the environmental sustainability. For contributing to the improvement of life quality for a needy population share in Bahia, the poorest and more vulnerable, and aiming to universalize Embasa's services in a more economically sustainable way, and with only three years of operationalization, it can be stated that the Padrão de Negociação Flexível de Débito (Flexible Debit Negotiation Standard) is considered as a success, with its application being kept until the present day.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
What makes the initiative innovative, among the national sanitation companies, is establishing the most reliable approximation possible about how much a low-income family can pay in a debit negotiation, with lower risk of recurring default. For this purpose, it´s used a system tool that estimates the user income, through the ratio between the family's electric power consumption, number of residents in a home and water consumption, and then, it measures the amount limit for water and sanitation bill and quantity of installments, within the payment capacity. All tool parameters and criteria were established through the analysis of factors from studies about socio-economic scenario in the State of Bahia (IBGE 2010 Census and Family Budget Research - POF 2009), confronting with the bill balance diagnosis existing in Embasa's database, through statistical methods of information match and use of data mining software of geo-referenced data. The company was also present in the communities, promoting the new negotiation method, through car with sound system, billboards, banners and folders, in addition to mobile units to carry out the field negotiations.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
The initiative was implemented by Embasa itself, through business, operation units and support units. Embasa is a mixed-economy company with authorized capital, private legal entity, with the State of Bahia government as the major shareholder. It provides treated water supply, sewage collection and treatment services, restating its commitment with the sustainable development, in accord with the State government's macro strategy, which is the universalization of the access to sanitation. Embasa is one of the executors of State of Bahia's basic sanitation policy, in the water supply and sanitation, and acts on the government priorities, defined within “Programa Água para Todos - PAT” (Water for Everyone Program). It provides services in 366 cities, where it serves the actions settled in the Municipal Basic Sanitation Plan, contributing to the universalization of water supply and sanitation services in a sustainable way. 434 water supply systems are in operation, distributed in 366 of 417 state cities (87.77% of state cities), from which 133 are integrated systems (they serve various locations belonging to one or more cities) and 301 are local. Regarding the sanitation, there are 118 systems are in operation, with 110 local and 8 integrated ones, which serve 102 state cities. The initiative's target audience are customers with up to two Brazilian minimum wages per capital, where, in the State of Bahia, it´s estimated that there are 1.889 million users in this situation. The program enabled, until December 2016, that 22.201 low-income customers could negotiate their debits, with an average 85% decrease to adapt it to their payment capacities, returning to the regular access to water supply and sanitation services.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
In 2013, a study was carried out on the geographic and socioeconomic characteristics of the state of Bahia, where it was found that 61% of families receive up to two Brazilian minimum wages (IBGE). In this scenario, a diagnosis of the families’ income and behavior was made in relation to the payment of the sanitation services bills, linking to the balance of bills receivable from Embasa due to problems causing default. Consequently, a thematic map of the census tracts1 of the IBGE was prepared, confronting the thematic map of the debit of the geo-referenced users of the Embasa services. From this statistical cross, it was confirmed that more than 90% of the users in debt with the Embasa were concentrated in areas of up to two minimum wages of per capita family income. The central issue for the recovery of the lowest family income customers refers to the size of the debt that these users have acquired over time with the service provider, which in most cases are unpayable against their income condition. In this sense, the methodology of this debt negotiation model considered the socioeconomic aspects of the families, such as income, standard of electric energy consumption, maximum percentage of commitment of the income with expenses of water and sewage treatment and its geographic aspect of the location of the debt. The essential element in a negotiation proposal is to identify the user's income to establish the limits of the agreement. Due to the difficulty of proving income of the lowest class, the standard of energy consumption was used to estimate income. For this, it was used the Pesquisa de Orçamento Familiar – POF (Family Budget Research), (IBGE – 2008/2009). However, data from the POF only comprise the stratification of household income impairment, without demonstrating this relationship by residents of the household, which significantly affects the energy consumption of a household and the estimation of family income. To overcome this obstacle, a field survey was carried out with a sample of 227 observations, whose statistical regression tests indicated, through the multiple R, that 98% of the variations in income are explained by changes in energy bills and in the number of residents, demonstrating how well the model fits the data. With this information, it was possible to establish the necessary parameters to estimate the family income at the time of the negotiation through the energy bill and the number of residents in the household and then, a maximum percentage of commitment of the income was used for the calculations of the installment and of the bill. Then, the Padrão de Negociação Flexível de Débito result is the debt adaptation, as well as the maximum amount for the negotiation installment to the family budget, deploying a system tool. For the operationalization, there was an adaptation in the commercial system, realized through the internal area of information technology, not being necessary the extra injection of financial resources. All the studies for scenario analysis were performed by internal work force, with information available in the market and field research, with not very significant costs. There were also actions of dissemination in the communities, with the possibility of effecting the negotiation in the client's house. Through reports extracted by the commercial system, it is possible to follow the negotiations carried out, the number of families benefited and the total value recovered by the company with the reduction of the existing debt. The monitoring of this information is translated into important indicators for decision making, which allows monitoring the evolution of the results and the achievement of objectives. ¹ small, relatively permanent statistical subdivisions of a county.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
The initiative was developed and developed by the following players: - Victor Mota Calmon de Siqueira – Billing Department Manager at Empresa Baiana de Águas e Saneamento S.A.- Embasa; - Daniel Torres de Oliveira - Planning Division and Billing Control Manager at Empresa Baiana de Águas e Saneamento S.A- Embasa; - Marcio Costa Lessa - Business Superintendent at Empresa Baiana de Águas e Saneamento S.A – Embasa; The Initiative was supported by: - Dilemar Oliveira Matos – Financial and Business Director at Empresa Baiana de Águas e Saneamento S.A – Embasa; The initiative was approved by: Executive Board at Empresa Baiana de Águas e Saneamento S.A – Embasa: Board of Directors at Empresa Baiana de Águas e Saneamento S.A – Embasa; Contributed to the initiative: - Information Technology Superintendence at Empresa Baiana de Águas e Saneamento S.A – Embasa; - Communication Unit at Empresa Baiana de Águas e Saneamento S.A – Embasa; - Mariana Larissa Negreiros Cabral - Business Superintendence Advisor; - Companhia de Eletricidade do Estado da Bahia – Coelba.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
Since when Padrão de Negociação Flexível de Débito application started, the following results were observed: - Experimental action in the neighborhood of Sussuarana in Salvador in the year 2013: 487 families, with a historical debt of BRL 2.6 million, joined the flexible negotiation. For the recovery of these families, benefits were granted, determined using the new tool, which reached an average of 90% discount of the outstanding debts to the company; - Annual Credit Recovery Campaigns: - Year 2014: 1,874 families, with a historical debt of BRL 7.9 million, joined the flexible negotiation. An average of 84% reduction of debits was verified; - Year 2015: 1,779 families, with a historical debt of BRL 8.1 million, joined the flexible negotiation. An average of 82% reduction in flow was verified; - Global result from February 2014 to December 2016: 22,201 families, with a historical debt of BRL 97.6 million, joined the flexible negotiation. An average of 85% of debit reduction was verified. These families became able to enjoy regular access to Embasa's water supply and sewage treatment services. Regular families with Embasa services and complying with their obligations are also important for the company's own economic and financial balance, which effectively contributes to the improvement of the services offered, as they enable more investments needed to maintain and expand the system of water supply and sanitation. By collaborating with the improvement of the quality of life of a poorer and more vulnerable part of the poorest population, seeking social inclusion and with a view to the universalization of important sanitation services with economic and environmental sustainability, the initiative is aligned with the following Sustainable Development Goals: “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages”; " Ensure access to water and sanitation for all"; "Reduce inequality within countries"; and " Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns”

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
Considering that income identification is an essential element to enable households to access sanitation services and to negotiate pending debts to establish the limits of the agreement, the first obstacle faced was the difficulty was getting the proof of income of the lowest class. In this sense, the standard of energy consumption was used to estimate income, using the Family Budget Research. However, the data of the POF only comprise the stratification of family income impairment, without showing this relation by residents of the household, that is, the per capita consumption of energy. This situation was a second obstacle found, and therefore, it was necessary to resort to field research to measure, through a sampling, the commitment with energy per inhabitant. Thus, a field survey was carried out with a sample of 227 observations, whose statistical regression tests showed, through the multiple R, that 98% of the variations in income are explained by variations in energy bills and the number of inhabitants, or either, showing how well the model fits the data. Another difficulty was the areas that had not yet been georeferenced by the company, which made it impossible to cross the IBGE census data. This problem was overcome with the inclusion of these registrations (registration number of the property at Embasa) in the analysis of the central negotiation committee (collegiate created for assessments of special situations), using photos of the properties, social conditions of the street, the neighborhood and the standard Consumption for inclusion of the family in the Padrão de Negociação Flexível de Débito. Another obstacle found by the company was the difficult access in areas of high risk (violent areas), which in some cases was supplanting with social actions.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
The initiative seeks to improve the quality of life of the poorest and most vulnerable population, since it allows the access to water supply and sanitation services, in a regular and quality manner, in line with world human and essential right “to have access to drinking water in quantities and of a quality equal to their basic needs” (Human Rights Council Resolution A/HRC/RES/15/9, 2010). Then, the Padrão de Negociação Flexível de Débito aims to provide the development of Bahian citizens, giving equal opportunities of access to the sanitation services offered by Embasa, providing better conditions for negotiating debts to those who need them the most. Consequently, it is expected that irregular situations of water supply and sewage treatment, such as the occurrence of clandestine connections, will be considerably minimized, with an improvement in service delivery (improvement in supply, reduction of losses, among others), which benefits the population of Bahia in general. Another important fact is that people who pay their bills in time tend to use the water supply and sanitation services in a more rational and aware way, which contributes directly to the environmental sustainability. Through social work with the poor communities, there is an interaction with the population contemplated with the initiative, to understand if the proposed results are being achieved. Observations of the social scenario are also made, focusing on raising the quality of life, to confirm the positive impacts achieved with the return to regularity of access to Embasa services. Among the main observations made, through field work carried out by commercial and social teams, in addition to improving the health of the affected population, which is the main objective of the initiative, are: the change in the behavior of people who returned to regular access to sanitation services offered by Embasa, with greater awareness of water use and sewage disposal; the satisfaction of being again compliant with Embasa; and the greater exercise of citizenship through greater understanding and compliance with the rights and duties arising from the relationship with the concessionaire. Through the telemarketing service, surveys are carried out with the people contemplated, to measure the reflexes brought with the debt negotiation through the new model. Timely, especially during periods of debt settlement campaigns, the communication area seeks to randomly listen to the public to record the general impression of the public on the benefits of the initiative. Reports issued by Embasa's commercial system and indicators accompany the evolution of the initiative, including monitoring the recovery of users, who once again were deferred and able to access Embasa services. Other commercial reports, which accompany the default of Embasa, make important analyzes of the positive impact on the implementation of the initiative (evolution of active connections, increase in billing, among others).

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
Through negotiation of debts, seeking favorable payment conditions, the initiative aims at recovering defaulters users, who live in clandestine circumstances, making use of water supply and sanitation services in an irregular manner, bringing them back to normality access to these services. Therefore, the solution also seeks to combat fraud in the use of these public services and, consequently, contributing to the increase of active / regular connections of water and sewage. With the initiative, the company seeks to reduce the losses of public resources, which could be used in the improvement and expansion of public services, that is, the optimization of its application. With the increase of the formal connections that the solution makes possible, the company can better control the provision of public services. Through reports drawn up by the commercial system and the monitoring of commercial and operational indicators, it is possible to measure the evolution of active connections since the implementation of the Padrão de Negociação Flexível de Débito and to monitor the financial return made possible by increasing the total billing and reducing the debt. Obviously, in addition to the Padrão de Negociação Flexível de Débito, Embasa uses other mechanisms to combat irregularities in water supply and sanitary sewage systems, such as the system for combating fraud, opening of an incident report and lawsuits against users Fraudsters, loss control, awareness raising actions among the communities, among others, in addition to the supervision of the State Sanitation Agency of Bahia (Agersa). The public can follow the main results of the initiative through the Sustainability Report, published annually, which tracks the evolution of the solution since 2014. In addition, Embasa gives external visibility on its main service indicators through the Management and Financial Statements Report, published annually, where it is possible to verify the evolution of existing water and sewage connections.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
The initiative seeks to improve the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable, seeking to provide favorable negotiation, adapting the bill to their payment capacities, according to family budget, and thus promoting the regular return to water supply and sanitation services. The solution also allows that the excess of resource coming from the flexible negotiation solution goes to other purposes, such as the acquisition of goods and other services, also meeting the specific needs of other vulnerable groups, such as women and girls, who can apply the resource in education and health, which enables greater preparation for the labor market and social inclusion. To ensure that the less favored families were indeed contemplated, special measures were taken from the design of the solution. Through the analysis of the socioeconomic scenario of the state of Bahia, using statistical methods of cross-referencing and using georeferenced data mining software, it was possible to map the areas with the highest debits and establish the profile of the neediest user. Therefore, to be included in the special debit negotiation conditions of the initiative, it was necessary to be within the required profile, that is, pre-identified users in the per capita income areas of up to two Brazilian minimum salaries, according to the areas of weighting of the census tracts of the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics - IBGE (Demographic Census 2010: by census sector). Through these analytical measures previously made and with the implementation of a technological tool in the commercial system for application and control of systematics, the initiative sought to contemplate the socioeconomic group most in need.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Empresa Baiana de Águas e Saneamento S. A.
Institution Type:   Public Agency  
Contact Person:   Mariana Larissa Cabral
Title:   Analyst of sanitation  
Telephone/ Fax:   +557133737850
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   mariana.cabral@embasa.ba.gov.br  
Address:   Rua Dom Eugênio Sales, S/N, Gerência de Cobraça, Boca do Rio
Postal Code:   41715340
City:   Salvador
State/Province:   Bahia
Country:  

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