Rather than stay up at the 10,000 foot level of analysis of some of my previous posts, today I’d like to focus down on a recent report from the Stockholm Environment Institute that highlights some major concerns that exist in terms of the enabling environment in Rwanda, Uganda, and Tanzania for investments in sanitation and hygiene.
The report assesses enabling environments in each of these three countries in terms of institutional roles and responsibilities, legal frameworks, effective targeting of populations in need, service levels, environmental and health issues, and in terms of finances.
Institutional commonalities of all countries surveyed in this report include a general tendency towards centralized/ministerial policy development with limited local capacity. Horizontal coordination across ministries was noted as a concern in all three countries, as there sometimes were confused roles and responsibilities. Vertical coordination down to the local/community level was also identified as an issue. There were some bright spots in the report, as institutional strengthening, decentralization, and a general movement towards community level ownership and operation. Furthermore, each of the three countries have made recent moves to clarify policy through Sector Wide Approaches, or SWAps.
Perhaps the most salient point in the whole report was the recognition that in all three countries there was no clear separation between service delivery and the regulation, monitoring, & evaluation. This is of critical concern, as the presence of separate regulatory bodies can, at least in theory, hold feet to the fire, so to speak.
On a related note, there was a noted disconnect in all three countries between stated targeting at the policy level and actual budget allocation. The identified a lack of legal framework specifically focused on sanitation and hygiene in all surveyed countries muddies the waters further.
Lastly, the report correctly notes that technical specifications were often identified, without a particular focus on functionality or effectiveness.
While I have not worked in all three of these countries, much of this is quite consistent with what I learned while reviewing sanitation and hygiene policy in Tanzania last year with the World Bank Water and Sanitation Program (WSP)’s Scaling up Rural Sanitation initiative. There, I saw a country that is making strides in terms of clarifying roles horizontally and moving towards decentralized responsibilities.
Reports like this that focus on the enabling environment in water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) are critical to the effectiveness any and all sector programming. Global efforts that help countries improve sector coordination and implementation, such as the Sanitation and Water for All program, the Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-water (GLAAS) program, and the Tracking Financing to Drinking-water, Sanitation and Hygiene (TrackFin) initiative, are critical pieces of WASH sector policy effectiveness.