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Published on: 22/06/2015

The new Sanitation and Water for All strategy is the result of an ample consultation and dialogue process

The foundations for a renewal of the Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) strategy were laid in a decision to conduct a progress review of the SWA Partnership during 2014 and subsequent discussions between SWA partners on the margins of the 2014 Stockholm World Water Week.

A Steering Committee meeting—held in the Netherlands on December 4 and 5, 2014 — endorsed a Theory of Change and established a Strategy Task Team to further develop the strategy. Click here for the theory of Change: Sanitation and Water for All

The Task Team produced a draft strategy which was further refined in consultation with the Country Processes Task Team (CPTT) to put country processes and effective behaviours of all SWA partners at the heart of SWA's future strategy.

The role of the country processes task team

The inputs for the CPTT consisted of its members' experiences in (supporting) country processes and on the findings of extensive research carried out by some of its members (WaterAid, WSP, IRC and UNICEF) on experiences with aid effectiveness. The studies considered more than ten countries including Niger, Liberia, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Timor-Leste and Honduras. Based on this work, a number of key behaviours were formulated with the aim of ensuring all partners work together effectively to achieve agreed sector targets.

What is new in the SWA Strategy?

The Strategy — inspired by a shared vision of "sanitation, water and hygiene for all, always and everywhere" — establishes a framework for structured progress towards the implementation of the Theory of Change. This includes a definition of the partnerships' role and purpose, and the goals and strategic objectives the partnership will pursue in achieving the common vision.

A central element in the Theory of Change and Strategy is the agreement on the effective behaviours for all SWA partners. The Strategy acknowledges that robust country processes will be central to achieving sanitation and water for all — requiring a fundamental change in the way the sector currently operates. A sector that delivers services for all, forever, and everywhere relies on the whole system working effectively together, including all the different parts, institutions and actors. It will imply an explicit commitment and effective behaviours of all sector stakeholders towards the promotion and adoption of sector system thinking and system strengthening. Achieving these behaviours will be an on-going process through incremental steps. The first step was taken last week with the adoption of the following four behaviours by the SWA partnership:

  • Enhance national government leadership of sector planning processes to develop 'One Equitable and Sustainable National Plan' for water and sanitation for all, prioritizing service equity and sustainable service delivery.
  • Strengthen and use country systems, including: financial management; procurement; human resources; monitoring and evaluation; reporting; audit, regulation, including those at a decentralized level.
  • Use one information and accountability platform for information and mutual accountability, built around a multi-stakeholder, government-led cycle of planning, monitoring and learning, including Joint Sector Reviews.
  • Built sustainable water and sanitation sector financing strategies that incorporate financial data on taxes, tariffs and transfers and report the progress made on these measures.

These behaviours commit SWA members—comprising of national governments, donors and other development partners, including organizations of civil society—to act upon and to hold each other accountable for compliance.

See here for a good example of how SWA partners, IRC, WFP, WaterAid and Aguaconsult, committed to collaborate under a common set of guiding principles towards system change.

Next steps- dissemination and communication

The endorsement of the behaviours is clearly only a first step. The challenge now is to ensure the behaviours are properly understood and effectively put into practice by all partners. Following the SWA Steering Committee meetings last week in Geneva, the Country Processes Task Team convened on June 18 th to discuss and define how to best support the SWA partners effectively adopt and practice the behaviours. This will logically require a process of information sharing, dialogue and reflective learning with all SWA partners.

The CPTT is currently working on a communication package, including a briefing note on each behaviour, based on evidence collected from the studies by the CPTT and on existing material from other sectors. The briefing notes—targeting sector professionals and practitioners—will be supported by a summary policy brief for decision makers in developing countries, i.e. governments and external support agencies.

The SWA session during the Stockholm Water Week in August this year will be a first opportunity to inform SWA members and other interested parties about SWA's new strategy and to raise awareness on the behaviours and the implications for organisational and institutional choices.

Sequence of next SWA events

The main SWA events consider the partnership meeting, the Ministerial meeting and the High Level Meeting. Naturally, the agenda of these coming meetings will very much be determined by the new SDGs that are expected to be adopted in the General Assembly of the UN in September this year. The meetings will be used and sequenced in support to achieving the SWA's strategic objectives. Country "system strengthening" and the behaviours will thus be a central theme in this cycle of upcoming SWA events.

The SWA strategy supports the SWA members in their respective preparations for implementation of the new water and sanitation agenda. The SWA partnership meeting, to be held this coming November in The Hague, will be an excellent opportunity to present the strategy and to discuss and debate the behaviours. The SWA Ministerial Meeting, envisioned for the beginning of 2016, will be the opportunity to engage sector ministers, head of developments partners and leaders of CSO organisations in a dialogue on the challenges in implementing the new SDG agenda, and the need to strengthen sector systems and effective behaviour of all sector players in attainment of the SDGs. The Ministerial meeting will launch the in-country preparation processes — the so-called High-Level Country Dialogues (HLCD) — for participation of the next SWA High Level Meeting (HLM) later in 2016. The HLM will be the place where all members, governments of developing countries, development partners and CSOs representatives are expected to commit to country system strengthening and effective behaviour in pursue of nationally accorded sector goals and targets.

Finally - keeping track of effective behaviours

How will we monitor sector strengthening and effective behaviour? Within the SWA partnership, the focus of the coming months will be on supporting SWA members come to grips with the new SWA strategy, the behaviours and how to implement these. In parallel, the CPTT is working with another SWA Task Team (on Global Monitoring and Harmonisation - GMHTT) on a set of differentiated indicators to track sector strengthening and effective behaviour by government institutions, development partners and CSO organisations. Monitoring sector strengthening and effective behaviours will be a crucial tool in reaching full accountability between all SWA members; governments of developing countries, development agencies and CSO's included.

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