Local governance for improved WASH services requires transformation at local level with the active support of institutions and policy makers at regional / provincial and national level. This includes the establishment of an enabling and supportive framework with resources and responsibilities devolved to local government so that it has the authority and the capacity to provide sustainable services. With stakeholder participation at local level and support from the broader water and sanitation sector, decentralised WASH services stand a fighting chance of success.
IRC’s Alana Potter and Jean de la Harpe facilitated a 2-day training programme for high level officials from Local Government Associations on decentralised service delivery. The purpose of the training was to test the applicability of the South African Water and Sanitation Councillor Development Programme (CDP) with Local Government Association representatives of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). In the training participated representatives from local government associations in Zambia and Zimbabwe, the Department of Water Affairs South Africa, and the United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLGA). The training took place in November 2012 in Pretoria, South Africa.
It has been long recognised that good local governance is necessary for the achievement of sustainable water and sanitation services. It is also crucial for sustainable economic growth and development. The challenge is to understand what good governance means at the local level for improved water, sanitation, and health (WASH) services, and how to achieve it. Institutions responsible for WASH, such as municipalities, governorates, districts, community based organisations and so on, often lack the necessary capacity, skills and resources to fulfil their governance responsibilities effectively. Responsibilities are often devolved without the necessary matching resources and support. This paper answers a range of questions on local governance for water, sanitation and hygiene.
The problems facing those who plan and provide WASH services are well rehearsed – lack of resources and capacity, confused political will, incomplete decentralisation, lack of clarity on roles and responsibilities, competing sectoral interests, lack of involvement of key players in decision making, over-reliance on donors, corruption, lack of cost recovery etc. etc.
List of web sites relevant to "Right to Water", compiled by Cor Dietvorst
IRC and two local partners have started a project to strengthen WASH governance in the West Nile sub-region of Uganda, by strengthening and supporting dialogue between elected leaders and technical staff, NGOs, CBOs and businesses in the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector.
Robert Nduati Gakobia of the Water Services Regulatory Board, Kenya talks about the practice of four years experience on regulating water services in his country with Jean de La Harpe, South African expert from IRC on local governance and decentralisation of water and sanitation services.
The “Raising the Citizens’ Voice in the Regulation of Services” is a public education initiative by the National Regulator in South Africa. The first pilot project began in Cape Town in 2006 covering four townships demonstrated its value through reduced water losses and increased payment levels. It was so successful that it scaled-up in Cape Town and spread to a few other municipalities. Not without challenges though.
The absence of essential information needed to benchmark Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) criteria performance is a serious impediment to investment and policy decisions in the water and sanitation services sector. This is an important conclusion from a recent survey by the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility that examined the drinking water and sanitation services sector through the lens of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) criteria. The purpose of the report is to aid the growing number of responsible investors — institutions and individuals — concerned about the impacts and long-term sustainability of investments in this vital but controversial sector.
“The question for responsible investors is not one of ownership but of performance: how to identify water utilities that are financially sound and have demonstrated success in building natural, social and moral capital, whether they be government- or investor-owned,” the authors write.
There are no quick fixes for the complex water-related challenges facing Andhra Pradesh. What is clear is that policies, institutional procedures and other aspects of water governance are needed that are firmly rooted in the principles of ‘adaptive management’.
The Ugandan experience of the Sector Wide Approach (SWAp) for planning and implementing water and sanitation programmes proved both an eye opener and a scare for WASH sector stakeholders from countries making the effort to follow in Uganda’s footsteps.