More than 130 professionals engaged in community-based water and sanitation, and management of Social Investment Funds participated in a regional workshop in White River, Mpumalanga, Republic of South Africa (RSA). The workshop held between November 26 and December 2, 1999 took stock of the development of community-based water supply and sanitation services and reviewed the financing challenge. The organizing committee included the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (RSA), The Mvula Trust (RSA) and the Water and Sanitation Program – East and Southern Africa (WSP-ESA) as well as UNICEF and DfID (UK). This Statement summarizes key findings of the workshop to be conveyed to policy makers, donors and sector actors.
In Africa today, over half of the population is without access to adequate water and more than two-thirds lack sanitary means of excreta disposal. Lack of access to safe water and hygienic sanitation remains one of the root causes of poverty as it is the poor, especially women and children, who suffer most due to poor living conditions, diseases and foregone opportunities.
Significant efforts over the last two decades have improved access but not enough to keep pace with population growth especially in fast expanding peri-urban and informal settlements on the fringes of cities. The trends are not being reversed. There are more people without adequate services today than a decade ago. In most countries public expenditure for water and sanitation and aid flows have leveled off or declined.
Sanitation and the promotion of hygiene are still neglected and need to be given much higher priority by all actors. Whilst water is life, sanitation is a way of life! Without hygiene and changes in behavior, the health impact of investment in water supply will be minimal.
Broad Policy Consensus and Sector Support
Regional consultations and exchanges among sector actors in Africa have contributed to a better understanding of what works and have spread new approaches. The emerging policy consensus underpinning ongoing efforts to re-direct and strengthen water and sanitation programs in the region is founded on the following guiding principles:
access to WSS services as a right, recognizing water and sanitation as critical components of development;
decentralization of service delivery and institutional reform;
demand responsive approaches (DRA) and community based management;
partnerships associating government, civil society and private sector; and
cost recovery as the foundation for sustainable services.
In many countries the implementation of sector policies is taking place in a context of broad-ranging political changes involving restructuring of state institutions, political pluralism, stakeholder participation, decentralization and a larger role for the private sector. These changes facilitate institutional reform in the WSS sector and should bring increased attention to demands for better services.
The broadening of the HIPC debt reduction initiative, from which several ESA countries stand to benefit, offers the opportunity for increased and more consistent funding of social expenditure in particular for water and sanitation.
The global focus on water issues through the Global Water Partnership (GWP), the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), and the World Water Forum, will raise the visibility of the sector and should strengthen political commitment to its development.
Whether the policy consensus and the above developments translate into more effective programs and improved services will depend on the ability of sector planners and policy makers to tackle the institutional and the financing challenges.
IMPLEMENTING DRA IN AFRICA
Community-based WSS cannot succeed in isolation. It needs to be developed within a holistic perspective considering the network of capacities available to the communities as well as the role of WSS in household livelihood systems. Investment in WSS services should keep in step with local economic development both contributing to improved livelihoods and benefiting from users' ability to sustain their systems.
CWSS rests on effective and balanced partnerships between government, local authorities, civil society (NGOs, CBOs, associations etc.), private sector and external development agencies. Sector policies and strategies should outline the roles of the various partners and their relationships taking into account their inherent assets and strength. Information, communication and exchanges among all actors engaged in CWSS need to be developed.
Many ESA countries are seeking to improve services and facilitate financing of WSS by involving the private sector in service provision. In order to measure up to their potential, public-private sector partnerships (PPP) need to be developed under a framework that ensures accountability, protects the interests of the public, and supports improvement of services to the poor. The latter would have to recognize the role of the "other private sector" made up of small scale independent providers (SSIP).
Decentralization will bring government closer to rural communities and is a positive factor for better services and for the use of local capacity. However, a phased transition is needed to address several issues: (i) local authorities generally lack capacity and resources; (ii) they tend to take over community management; (iii) the relationships between sector agencies and local authorities need to be clarified.
Capacity building and institutional changes should be given priority and should set the pace for program implementation. Institutional autonomy and flexibility are necessary to coordinate rural WSS programs and to intermediate effectively with local authorities and communities.
The legal and institutional framework establishing the rights and duties of communities as owners and custodians of their WSS systems needs to be strengthened, covering in particular: (i) access, use and protection of water resources; (ii) ownership and management of facilities; and, (iii) status and by-laws for water users associations.
THE FINANCING CHALLENGE
In a nutshell:
A. Stretching and Targeting Government Finance
In all African countries, the public finance available for CWSS service development is insufficient, even to provide basic services for the poor at current standards. More efficient and effective mechanisms for financing community services are needed. How funds are channeled and for what, matters just as much as how much is spent.
B. Mobilizing Community Resources
Poor communities can, and do pay for services that they trust and value. Communities, householders (in particular women) and small independent operators save, borrow and invest for better services. Sector policies should provide an enabling environment to foster their initiatives.
The recommendations are organized along three lines of action:
First, more effective use of funds spent by public agencies and donors;
Second, better incentives for efficiency, sustainability and mobilization of local resources; and
Third, facilitating the mobilization of additional non-public resources.
1. Value for money in the use of funds by sector agencies
Communities should be fully responsible for operations and maintenance (O&M) of their WSS systems. Subsidies for O&M outlays should be phased out and be re-directed to capital expenditures especially for rehabilitation. In any case, existing subsidies should be kept limited to level of services affordable by government and consumers.
While the financial principles incorporated in sector policies are generally sound, they are rarely carried into implementation strategies. Guidelines applicable to all actors are needed to define access criteria and rules for the channeling of funds (e.g. through CWSS program implementation manuals).
The budget framework of central sector agencies needs to be aligned with their new (and more focused) role (e.g. policies and guidelines, program development and monitoring, oversight of local authorities as well as technical support and capacity building). Staff overloads resulting from the transfer of responsibilities and devolution of functions have to be dealt with. Likewise, resources/assets held by central sector agencies should follow the transfer of functions to local authorities and to communities.
Sector agencies should pursue improvements in management systems and budget controls, and undertake regular audits to enhance their efficiency and accountability. Efforts to reduce waste and to drive out corruption should apply to the sector.
Financing of sanitation should be based on the following principles:
use of public funds for the promotion and hygiene marketing, training, community mobilization and demonstration;
prioritization of hygiene and sanitation in schools;
phase-out of subsidies for household latrines;
innovative marketing of sanitation solutions for households and communities; and
enforcement of Public Health by-laws.
Community water and sanitation should be given priority in strategies to reduce poverty. Sector agencies in collaboration with the Finance Ministries should develop the framework to plan and monitor expenditure for water and sanitation under social programs supported by the outflow from debt reduction agreements.
2. Financing mechanisms and incentives
As a rule, funds should be channeled to districts or to lower levels at which implementation takes place. Capital grants for community projects should follow the most direct route from the source to the communities.
DRA relies on financing mechanisms that:
ensure community participation at all stages of the project cycle,
require a contribution from the community,
lead to informed choices by communities,
provide incentives for:
the choice of affordable options,
the efficient implementation of community projects; and
the mobilization of local resources including credit from rural financial institutions;
recognize community responsibilities in project implementation; and
support the build up of O&M capacity.
Social Investment Funds have emerged as a major source of financing for community WSS in several ESA countries. A framework for their collaboration with sector agencies and for incorporation of sector policies in their operational guidelines needs to be agreed focusing in particular on:
methods and processes for communities mobilization
project access rules
project planning and appraisal, and
capacity building for O&M which would be critical to improve sustainability.
3. Mobilizing additional resources
To make CWSS schemes capable of attracting private sector financing they need to be seen as "going concerns" i.e. businesses selling desired solutions at an affordable price. Success factors include:
well established and transparent management systems
clear accountability of management and operators
secure tenure of assets and of access to resources
strong links to community resources and the creation of wealth.
access to technical assistance
The primary objective should be to provide an enabling environment to foster initiatives by communities and independent providers; dealing with:
legal and regulatory constraints
community access to finance especially through micro-finance institutions
capacity building and training.
Investment in social capital and technical assistance is essential to support community and household initiatives, in particular to:
facilitate the formation of local partnerships,
expose communities to innovation and good practice and link them with networks,
provide information on, and access to, formal subsidies and support programs, and
ensure necessary linkages with trunk systems and negotiate support from local authorities and sector agencies.
ESA countries should, on the basis of regional and global experience, develop strategies and programs for community-based infrastructure development in low-income informal urban settlements including:
partnerships between CBO, community finance institutions, NGOs, and municipal agencies,
incentives for savings by low-income groups,
institutional and financing strategies to leverage public funds with community resource and to facilitate coordination/linkages with trunks systems, and
widespread and systematic information and communication.
The workshop resolved that the above findings and recommendations provide useful guidance to strengthen financial policies and funding strategies for community WSS.
The workshop mandated the organizing agencies to convey its findings and recommendations to the WASAI Secretariat, to SATAC and to the SADC Sector Unit for dissemination to all sector actors.
The workshop mandated the organizing partners to consider its findings as well as the common issues arising from the country reports, in identifying follow-up activities. These should be linked with other regional initiatives.
The next CLC workshop should take stock of progress at the country level against the findings and recommendations of previous CLC workshops and would focus on institutional issues in particular those arising from decentralization. The next workshop should be planned for 2001; Addis Ababa and Lusaka will be considered as possible venues.