New initiative supports national sanitation planning

Updated - Monday 02 April 2012

Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) will soon launch a new initiative to help off-track countries meet their WASH goals. The National Planning for Results Initiative (NPRI) aims to pool donor support to develop in-country planning capacity. SWA announced the initiative during their session on National Sanitation Planning at the 6th World Water Forum in Marseilles. The official launch of the NPRI will take place at the upcoming SWA High Level Meeting in April this year.

Prince of Orange opens session

“The growth in sanitation coverage figures is unacceptably low”, said the Prince of Orange at the opening of the SWA session at the World Water Forum. Prince Willem-Alexander, who is chair of the United Nations Secretary-General's Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation (UNSGAB), emphasised the importance of robust national plans for sanitation. Key elements for success are sector policies and strategies, a framework for monitoring clear sector targets, and sound financial planning.

AfricaSan

An important initiative to accelerate progress towards achievement of the MDG’s in Africa presented in the session  was the AfricaSan process and the five year drive for sanitation.  During the lead-up to the third AfricaSan conference last year in Kigali (Rwanda), African countries took stock of their progress towards reaching the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target for sanitation, drew- up country action plans and made renewed commitments to come to actions, including a re-confirmation of a budget allocation of 0.5% of the national GDP for sanitation (eThekwini Declaration-2008). Follow-up activities are foreseen including peer reviews of progress and sharing and learning among countries.

Country experiences

The SWA session highlighted national sanitation planning development in three African countries:

  • Madagascar has set up an inter-ministerial sanitation platform and developed a National Sanitation Plan that addresses financing (resource mobilization), capacity development, strategy implementation, monitoring and evaluation, and scaling-up
  • In Senegal, the development of a national framework for sector planning has brought about a paradigm shift away from fragmented project-based approaches and under-financing of sanitation. The increase in national sanitation coverage is said to be a direct result of better planning.
  • Namibia  has formulated its National Sanitation Strategy around a six key result areas: sector coordination; institutional capacity building; community education and participation; construction; operation and maintenance; and performance management and enforcement.

NPRI target group and approach

SWA explained that their initiative will target those fragile states, not facing emergencies, but which are highly aid dependent and have neither effective sector coordination mechanisms nor national sector planning processes in place.

The NPRI will function as a partnership mechanism that responds to country-led demand for technical  support for national sector planning. It will mobilize existing resources but will not act as a global investment or technical assistance fund. These existing resources will be used for technical assistance, to support strengthening sector planning capacities by better coordination, ideas and where appropriate generate catalytic support.

Success criteria and challenges

What is needed to make national sanitation planning work? First of all, political support and multi-stakeholder planning platforms. Secondly, there should be a flexible monitoring framework, which allows for regular stakeholder planning reviews (accountability mechanism), and enables corrective action and joint learning.

However, to find out what works/doesn’t work and why, requires more in-depth analysis. We have to figure out better how improved planning can be translated into sustainable services for end users. The fact that NPRI target countries, by definition, have very limited in-country capacities, raises other questions. Whose capacity really needs strengthening most, and how can their capacities be sustained?

Find out more about Sanitation and Water for All at: www.sanitationandwaterforall.org

Read more about the National Sanitation Planning Session here

Erma Uytewaal


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