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And how is aid strengthening the sector's capacities to deliver sustainable water sanitation and hygiene services for all?
With the adoption of a sector vision, a WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) policy and WASH programme, Honduras has made significant steps in better organising and coordinating all sector interventions. However, the leading government body (CONASA) lacks the political weight to play a stronger role in enforcing a higher priority for the sector in the national development agenda.
At the same time, and despite better alignment and harmonisation of approaches, the sector is still very much in a project implementation mode and not driven by longer term targets and impact that support a broad sector vision for sustained service delivery.
As a result, most aid is still delivered in the form of short-term projects, and accountability and transparency are restricted to the project cycle. The sector lacks a mechanism to keep all actors, including external support agencies, accountable for long-term service delivery or sector performance.
These are the main findings of a study on how effective is “aid” for WASH in strengthening the sector’s capacities to deliver a sustainable WASH service for all in Honduras.
Aid and the contribution sector's capacities
The support is fragmented and lacks a long term perspective
Aid is contributing three quarters of investment in the WASH sector. The funding that is provided is in the form of loans from development banks. Aid has definitely made an important contribution to sector development, both at national level (funding various parts of the sector reform process) and at municipal level (supporting selected municipalities in their institutional development and fulfilling their planning, monitoring and coordination roles). This support, however, is fragmented and lacks a long-term perspective. As a result, many municipalities have some capacity, but few have all the capacities needed for planning, financing and monitoring WASH service delivery. Similarly, capacity development to community-based service providers is often through short-term projects - but longer term capacity development options for this group of actors are limited.
The way forward
The study gives a few pointers for the way forward:
- Earmark part of the public funding and aid money to strengthen and consolidate the sector’s capacity in a more structured way, driven by a common vision on sector performance.
- Adoption of a programmatic approach e.g. by underwriting a “compact” in which all sector stakeholders subscribe to achieve a common sector goal – oriented at strengthening the sector.
- Linking sector planning to performance monitoring and learning.
The authors believe that CONASA should strengthen its leadership by revitalising existing sector coordination platforms and designing and implementing an annual multi-stakeholder sector review. This would ensure that instruments like MAPAS (for sector performance analysis) and the sector information system (currently under development) are aligned to support evidence-based decision making and mutual accountability in the sector.
This study has been carried out in collaboration with CONASA. The study was part of a series of studies conducted by IRC, WaterAid and the World Bank Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) in various countries, including Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Niger and Timor-Leste. The results of the studies informed the present Sanitation and Water for All strategy that aims to strengthening of national sector capacities to reach universal access to sustainable services.