Monday, 14 May 2012

Public Expenditure on WatSan in SSA

I’ve been reading More, Better, or Different Spending? Trends in Public Expenditure on Water and Sanitation in Sub-Saharan Africa by Meike van Ginneken, Ulrik Netterstrom and Anthony Bennett (World Bank, 2012). Here’s a couple of quotes:

Looking at political dynamics also helps explain why sanitation is an orphan sector, suffering from slow technology change. Low household demand for sanitation results in politicians not seeing sanitation as a vote winner, and therefore allocating scarce resources to sectors with higher perceived political rewards. But sanitation is a cheap lifesaver [emphasis added], and as such might merit higher public spending. Mistrust of cheaper service levels and other cultural norms within the engineering profession form the background of the strong barriers to technological innovations [emphasis added].

The need for better targeting is a major conclusion of this review. This includes channelling funds to the sanitation subsector, to areas outside of the capital, and to the upkeep of existing water supply and sanitation facilities that currently appear underfunded.

A review of Public Expenditure Reviews reveals huge gaps between policy and practice. PERs can be a useful tool to hold governments accountable for the implementation of their own policies and promises. At the sector level, we found that while nearly all countries have elaborated comprehensive water sector policies and strategies, implementation and enforcement of sector reform strategies remain incomplete, and efforts are needed in terms of capacity building, general public awareness campaigns, and further development of the legal framework that would facilitate implementation of policies and strategies.

An inspiring but depressing read!