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Enhancing collaborative behaviours to achieve the SDGs

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Looking at achieving the sustainable development goals, Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) has taken the lead in developing some key collaborative behaviour that if adopted by governments and WASH sectors stakeholders could accelerate progress.

What could everyone do for example in increasing chances of villages attaining ODF faster and sustaining ODF? The 4 collaborative behaviours identified and that formed the core of discussions in some side events and the plenary sessions are:

  • Enhancing government leadership of sector planning processes
  • Strengthen and use country systems
  • Use of information and mutual accountability platform
  • Build sustainable water and sanitation financing mechanisms

All stakeholders working in increasing access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene have a role to play and there is a call for the sector to in fact change current behaviours and adopt more collaborative behaviours. This would mean developing programs that support national priorities and working with government structures in implementing. It is true that many countries with low WASH coverage also lack governance structures/systems for WASH. The call for collaboration also means that stakeholders identify mechanisms for strengthens systems for WASH implementation and monitoring.

The private sector would be more involved in knowledge and learning and informing strategy given already existing capacities in this sector and not seen as only a source for resources.
Development partners, donors, NGOs and CSOs already work together and are even possibly practicing some of the collaborative behaviours. Participants discussed how to align programs with those of national governments anchored on the 5 building blocks:

  • Sector policy/Strategy
  • Institutional arrangements
  • Sector financing
  • Planning, monitoring and review and
  • Capacity development

Putting this in context, in countries where CLTS has been successful and managed to get traction, strong government leadership drove the process by first making CLTS approach part of its national strategies for sanitation improvement. This was supported by ‘No subsidy’ policies at least in the rural areas where CLTS was being implemented.

In Kenya, the intersectoral coordination committee for environmental health and hygiene has been a strong mechanism for learning and advocacy for resources.
So building on the already existing sector coordination mechanisms in many countries, an agreed set of collaborative behaviours makes these practices more purposeful and focused.

Governments leading from the front

It is generally agreed that in places where the government offers strong leadership and support to the WASH sector, better progress was achieved in accelerating access to water and sanitation. The GLAAS 2012 that focused on measuring some key indicators for sustainability offers insights to how governments have achieved this and the correlation between strong governance and sustainability.

Ethiopia is implementing what they refer to as ONE WASH Program (OWP): One plan, one budget, One reporting system, One procurement system and One M&E system.
The government working with 4 key partners- World Bank, UNICEF, AfDB and DFID set up a national consolidated WASH account which was launched in 2013.

The development of this program involved 4 key ministries cooperating and working together- Ministries of Finance, Health, Education and Water.
This program is aligned to the national strategies and the government is providing leadership to see that the private sector and NGOs in WASH do the same. What this means is that people don’t report and operate according to who the funder is but rather as a harmonised integrated sector.

The government has also planned for phase 2 of this program that will increase its focus on the unserved and vulnerable, particularly those living in drought prone areas. This is set to significantly reduce the inequalities in access.

The challenge for programs such as this one is in getting all partners integrated and contributing.  Given differences in how NGOs/ CSOs  get funding and what the donors require in terms of reporting and implementing mechanisms it may time to get everyone in one basket and Ethiopia has acknowledge this.
An important thing to note is that partners require evidence that a particular strategy/approach is working, for them to be energised to invest in it. National governments do have the role of not only getting partners buy-in but first creating an enabling environment and evidence that shows that what they propose as an approach will work.

Kenya adopted CLTS as a national strategy in 2010 and the Ministry of Health set up a hub at the national office to lead in knowledge, learning and coordination of WASH
The Ministry of Health, in May 2015, launched the national policy, strategy and roadmap to ODF. This set out clearly how what approaches ministry and sector stakeholders will use in sanitation. The ministry has also a strong sector wide approach referred to as the ICC (Interagency coordination committee) consisting of technical working groups that lead in informing key sector agenda.

Devolution has decentralised resources and services to the 47 counties. This means that the government has the challenge of developing key capacities at all regions. The national hub had for example trained a pool of CLTS master trainers that were used nationally for Tots in CLTS. With devolution the new programming is aimed at ensuring that every county has a pool of master trainers, M&E officers and ODF certifiers. The national government therefore has the additional responsibility of building capacity of CSOs and partners and providing the evidence necessary for convincing the county governments to allocate resources for sanitation and hygiene.

A key take out message from many sessions is that more collaboration is certainly required for the WASH sector to achieve the SDGs. This collaboration can be as simple as even sharing knowledge and learning of what works and what doesn’t. In practice this would increase the success of implementers including those working in CLTS and Sanitation Marketing. Collaboration also ensures a more efficient use of resources, by reducing duplication and freeing up finances for use where they are needed.

Lillian Mbeki is a Social Marketing and Private Sector Development Specialist Consultant at Water & Sanitation Program-AF, World Bank

Date: 20 October 2016