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To achieve sustainable services, financial sustainability is critical. However, tracking financial flows in the water sector is notoriously complex and fragmented and even more so for sanitation and hygiene services.

The vision for water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) in the post-2015 millennium development goal (MDG) era is to reach everyone by 2030. One of the priorities is that WASH should be equitable and sustainable. Governments and donor agencies have responded to the ambitious targets by saying that it will be expensive to achieve them and that large injections of funds are needed.

Catarina Fonseca, pioneer in the understanding of life-cycle costs and financing, is author of the chapter on finance in the book “From infrastructure to services : trends in monitoring sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene services”. She says: "The most striking point is that within the next five years we really need to engage with the horrifying financing needs and identify mechanisms that make public and private finance available to ensure the poor have adequate water and sanitation services. Failing to do so, we know that we will not reach universal access by 2030."

Better tracking of finance can improve value for money and provide costs and financing benchmarks

In some low- and middle-income countries, financial requirements may indeed exceed the available funds, but in many other countries the funds are available but not used effectively or not used at all. Better tracking of finance can improve value for money, can provide costs and financing benchmarks for countries with different rates of development, can assist in better utilization of existing funds, and can enable the sector to begin finding structural solutions to problems related to absorptive capacity, the lack of asset management, and the lack of clarity on how to fund recurrent costs.

From a human rights perspective to water and sanitation, the main reason for monitoring the finance is to target and shift financial resources to those who most need basic, safe access to a water supply, sanitation, and hygiene.

By tracking finance, policy and implementation decisions will be properly informed so that realistic progress to a basic level of service can be made.

Key questions

The key questions addressed in chapter 2 “Making the invisible visible: monitoring the costs and finance needed for sustainable WASH service delivery” of the book “From infrastructure to services” are:

  • What is the relevance of tracking finance at global and national level? How does it feature in the post-2015 monitoring discussions?
  • What has been the progress during the past three years on monitoring finance for WASH?
  • What are some of the latest methodologies to monitor finance for WASH?
  • What are the incentives for financial monitoring?

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