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Despite the great need and enormous benefits, the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector has historically faced major obstacles: Each of the following five obstacles are interlinked and, taken together, reflect the complexity of the problem. WASH is low on the political agendaComprehensive national plans are not being developed and implemented Finance to the sector is unpredictable, insufficient and does not reach the countries or people that need it the mostReliable evidence, data or analysis to inform decision-making is limited and it is difficult to track progressLow levels of mutual accountability exist between developing countries and donors, and between developing country governments and their citizens These bottlenecks have resulted in slow progress in accelerating access to universal and sustainable drinking water and sanitation, especially for the poorest.
WASH is low on the political agenda Political and financial decision-makers are often unaware of the fundamental importance, or the multiple benefits, of WASH improvements. In addition, investment in WASH faces many competing priorities such as health, education and defence. As a result, WASH is often not prioritized and suffers from a lack of institutional leadership, capacity and resources which impedes progress.
Comprehensive national plans are not being developed and implemented Many developing countries report they have agreed policies on water and sanitation but lack adequate institutional or human resource capacity to develop realistic plans or implementation strategies. Where plans exist, they have often not been developed in consultation with key sector stakeholders. Most countries have established national sector planning and coordination processes, but they lack reliable information about the sector in order to plan and invest coherently. This lack of comprehensive planning undermines credibility with investors such as donors and central governments.
Finance to the sector is unpredictable, insufficient and does not reach the countries or people that need it the most National budget allocations to sanitation and drinking-water are insufficient to expand services to the unserved as well as to maintain existing services In addition, investment decisions often do not respond to needs, and issues of equity are often not addressed. The problem is greatest where the coverage is lowest. Many countries also have low capacity to absorb funds allocated to WASH due to human, financial and institutional constraints. Further, it is the countries in greatest need that have the least capacity to spend funds. This creates a vicious cycle further undermining credibility with government and donor investors. Evidence further shows that aid-flows to many countries with low coverage are not correlated with need (see Figure 2). On a regional basis, though 70% of the unserved live in sub-Saharan Africa, Southern Asia and Southeastern Asia, these regions only receive half of the sanitation and water aid.GLAAS pages 28 - 32GLAAS page 55
Reliable evidence, data or analysis to inform decision-making is limited and it is difficult to track progressCountries find it difficult to plan and make decisions about where investments in WASH should go due to the lack of reliable and accessible information. In many cases, countries do not have reliable data to determine who lacks services or, if they have been provided services in the past, what condition the facilities are in. Detailed data at the levels of state/province, local government area and community are essential. The lack of these data makes investment allocations difficult and complicates coordination of activities. Despite many monitoring initiatives, it is difficult to track and demonstrate progress and impact in the WASH sector, particularly at national and sub-national levels. Finance ministers are likely to be reluctant to prioritize the sector to receive a country’s scarce resources if they don’t see value for money or a return on investment.
Low levels of mutual accountability exist between developing countries and donors, and between developing country governments and their citizens Governments make commitments to increase budgets for WASH through national plans but don’t necessarily allocate the required funds. Similarly, while donors may make commitments to fund WASH, these commitments are not always followed through. Over the period 2002 – 2010, data show that donors did not release US$17 billion of the US$54 billion of aid committed to the water and sanitation sector. Mechanisms to hold governments and donors to account for their promises are often weak, and too few platforms exist for citizens and users to be consulted and to feedback on the performance of WASH service providers.
The Steering Committee mandates and oversees the Secretariat, which provides support to the Chair, Vice-Chair, Steering Committee and the partners. All SWA Partners come together every two years for the SWA Partnership Meeting to discuss the strategic direction of the partnership. UNICEF, at the request of the Steering Committee, hosts the SWA Secretariat, in collaboration with the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), which provides communications and advocacy support.
What is SWA and how does the partnership address the obstacles facing the WASH sector?Recognizing that developing countries and aid organizations achieve more by working together, Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) aims to turn the current situation around by creating a virtuous cycle of robust planning, institutional strengthening, better resource utilization and higher investment that has the potential to make a real difference to the lives of billions of people. SWA provides a transparent, accountable and results-oriented framework for action based on a common vision, values and principles.
SWA is a platform:For coordinated actionFor global high-level dialogueTo implement the aid effectiveness agenda in the WASH sectorTo strengthen mutual accountability
SWA provides a framework for partners to collaborate globally, regionally and nationally on three priority areas (find out more in Module 3): Together, SWA partners work to: Increase political prioritization to accelerate progress towards universal access to sustainable sanitation, hygiene and water servicesPromote the development of a strong evidence base that supports good decision makingStrengthen government-led national planning processes to guide the development and implementation of sustainable sanitation and drinking water services Working together on these areas, SWA aims to increase the impact of available resources and strengthen mutual accountability among partners
The High-Level Commitments Dialogue (HLCD) encompasses the preparatory process that countries and donors carry out to develop context-specific commitments which are tabled at SWA High-Level Meetings, and the annual monitoring of commitments made. The HLCD is designed to encourage on-going political dialogue at the national (including sub-national) and global levels and is focused on achieving results on the ground. Country-level dialogues are strengthened – both among ministers (and parliament), technical stakeholders, CSOs, donors and development banks and citizens – and also provide a platform to strengthen mutual accountability. Partners are encouraged to raise WASH on the political agenda and promote solutions, demonstrate political will, strengthen mutual accountability and increase the impact of resources. High Level Meetings (HLMs) bring together ministers responsible for finance, water and sanitation from developing countries, ministers of development cooperation from donor countries, and high-level representatives from development banks and leading sanitation and water agencies. At the HLM, ministers commit to address the fundamental bottlenecks holding back progress and to act on international aid and development effectiveness principles. On behalf of the partnership, the SWA Secretariat monitors these commitments and issues a report on progress made, encouraging all partners at country level to get involved in the process, to bolster mutual accountability. The 2014 SWA High Level Meeting (HLM) will be the third biennial meeting. Convened by UNICEF on behalf of the SWA Partnership and hosted by the World Bank, it will be a major milestone in the on-going SWA HLCD.
Many developing countries do not have robust sector monitoring and evaluation systems that are able to provide reliable and consistently accurate data or information to support decision-making. Ideally, national processes provide information on sanitation and water service delivery, including Joint Sector Reviews and government-led annual performance reviews, which are designed to analyse where the gaps and bottlenecks remain, using data provided by national information management systems.
National Planning for Results Initiative (NPRI) SWA has developed the National Planning for Results Initiative (NPRI) to catalyse the acceleration of WASH coverage in a small number of countries that lack strong and well performing sectors. Strengthening WASH sector systems and developing the institutions to organize and oversee the delivery of services is therefore fundamental to improving sector performance and maximising the value for money of government and donor spending, and will be crucial in accelerating progress towards universal access to WASH.Responding to demand from developing country partners, NPRI brings together representatives from donor and developing country governments, and other sector partners, to support the constituent elements of an effective sector framework or planning process. These include political will, sector coordination, an overall strategy for sector development, and an institutional capability to monitor and respond to bottlenecks impeding effective performance. NPRI increases the effectiveness of existing resources through pooled activity, drawing on the technical and human resources of SWA partners.
SWA partners engage in existing political processes to advocate for greater attention and resources for WASH at both the national and global levels. For example, SWA works through key partners to put WASH on the agenda at the UN General Assembly and will look towards other political opportunities such as the post-2015 development agenda, G8, G20, and World Economic Forum in the future. SWA seeks to strengthen collaboration with other sectors (such as health, education and nutrition) as well as with similar partnerships such as Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN), A Promised Renewed (Child Survival), Every Woman Every Child (EWEC), the International Health Partnership (IHP) and the Global Partnership for Education (GPE). Further, SWA works to align with existing regional WASH sector mechanisms, such as AfricaSan and SACOSAN.Points 2 and 3 already covered
SWA provides a platform where governments lead and coordinate the WASH Sector. Working together, governments and development partners can better harmonize their efforts to accelerate progress in WASH. By joining SWA, partners agree to adhere to the SWA Guiding Principles, largely based on the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and the Accra Agenda for Action. The principles include country ownership, alignment, harmonization, managing for results, mutual accountability and predictability. The principles aim to facilitate improved domestic investment, increased donor flows through country systems, and more effective use of all resources in the sector to ultimately achieve sustainable access to services for everyone.
SWA partners actively participate in the High Level Commitments Dialogue to develop partner-specific commitments to improve sanitation and water services. At the biennial High Level Meeting, ministers responsible for finance, water and sanitation from developing countries, ministers of development cooperation from donor countries, and high-level representatives from development banks agree to report on progress commitments annually, in consultation with civil society from their respective countries. Monitoring progress of the commitments made at the SWA High Level Meetings is SWA’s key mechanism for strengthening mutual accountability. As a partner-led and partner-governed initiative, self-reporting is a fundamental premise of SWA. The SWA Secretariat, mandated by the SWA Steering Committee, facilitates the reporting process, analyses the results and produces an annual global report on the status of implementation of the commitments. The process is expected to be inclusive with all partners taking part and being consulted including civil society representatives.
Significant gains have already been achieved as a result of commitments at the 2012 HLM, such as increased budgets, strengthened national planning and country-level dialogue among ministers, technical stakeholders, civil society, donors and development banks.Other points that you can mention relating to what we have achieved: We have piloted a new way of generating political will. Improved contacts with Ministers of Finance / improved communications channels betw WASH sector and MoF / other relevant ministriesThrough our work, we are beginning to understand more about how to engage with MoFs. We are ‘learning’ about political advocacy. This is a journey we are embarking onGlobal monitoring report -- Increasing accountability between donors and governments, governments and citizens (100% response rate)GLAAS and SWA – complimentary and mutually reinforcing – leading to improved analysis and understanding of obstacles Country level coordination – mobilizing sector partners and getting them to work together / leveraging the potential of civil societyCreation of NPRI / building institutional demandQuality of dialogue at country level has improved and south south learning and exchange is improving (e.g. exchange visits) It would be interesting for Darren to summarize a few points like those above and mention the session which is to follow later, where partners can intervene and share their own impressions of the impact / added value of SWA.