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Closing the gap : wash sector devolution and decentralisation in Malawi

Current water sector reforms in Malawi are taking place against the backdrop of a broader pan-governmental effort to decentralise service provision authority to local government. The newly established Local Development Fund (LDF) is a mechanism with the potential to increase fiscal decentralisation and build capacity at the local level to address delivery of rural water services, alongside many other technical sectors. Part of the logic of the fund is to provide a common funding basket that will encourage greater local control and improved coordination between sectors at the local government level. According to the Ministry of Finance as of June 2011, the fund had channelled MWK 9.4 billion (US$ 54.9 million) to local government. But after two annual cycles there is only limited evidence to determine if this fund will provide a viable and effective means to support decentralisation in general. Specifically for the WASH sector, the fund has to date drawn limited support from development partners (DP) in favour of various other financing approaches unique to each partner. The main WASH stakeholders are also in the process of designing a number of important building blocks for improved sector-wide performance. These include some form of common funding mechanism, national level monitoring system and a sector-wide approach intended to provide a forum to continually identify emerging sector issues and enable collaborative efforts to address them. For all sectors, the Local Development Fund still faces a number of challenges, including the balance between donor earmarked and so-called ‘open menu’ financing and lack of awareness about access to the funds for both infrastructure and capacity building.

In this case study the gap between these two parallel processes is explored and the apparent disincentives to a closer integration are outlined. Despite the limitations of the current Local Development Fund the authors point to a number of opportunities for improved alignment and suggest options for the way forward. These include a possible two-step process of firstly improving internal WASH sector coordination with a view to much closer integration with the Local Development Fund in the medium-term. Ultimately, political pressure and leverage of central government, development partners, and local government on the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development (MoAIWD) will be instrumental in determining the pace and scope of devolution in the sector. [authors abstract]

This is part of the Triple-S (Sustainable Services at Scale) Water services that last-project.

TitleClosing the gap : wash sector devolution and decentralisation in Malawi
Publication TypeMiscellaneous
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsLockwood, H, Kang, M
Secondary TitleTriple-S – Working Paper
Volume2
Pagination32 p.; 3 tab.; 3 fig.; 3 boxes
Date Published2012-02-01
PublisherIRC
Place PublishedThe Hague, The Netherlands
Keywordsdecentralization, malawi, reform, Triple-S (Sustainable Services at Scale), water
Abstract

Current water sector reforms in Malawi are taking place against the backdrop of a broader pan-governmental effort to decentralise service provision authority to local government. The newly established Local Development Fund (LDF) is a mechanism with the potential to increase fiscal decentralisation and build capacity at the local level to address delivery of rural water services, alongside many other technical sectors. Part of the logic of the fund is to provide a common funding basket that will encourage greater local control and improved coordination between sectors at the local government level. According to the Ministry of Finance as of June 2011, the fund had channelled MWK 9.4 billion (US$ 54.9 million) to local government. But after two annual cycles there is only limited evidence to determine if this fund will provide a viable and effective means to support decentralisation in general. Specifically for the WASH sector, the fund has to date drawn limited support from development partners (DP) in favour of various other financing approaches unique to each partner. The main WASH stakeholders are also in the process of designing a number of important building blocks for improved sector-wide performance. These include some form of common funding mechanism, national level monitoring system and a sector-wide approach intended to provide a forum to continually identify emerging sector issues and enable collaborative efforts to address them. For all sectors, the Local Development Fund still faces a number of challenges, including the balance between donor earmarked and so-called ‘open menu’ financing and lack of awareness about access to the funds for both infrastructure and capacity building.

In this case study the gap between these two parallel processes is explored and the apparent disincentives to a closer integration are outlined. Despite the limitations of the current Local Development Fund the authors point to a number of opportunities for improved alignment and suggest options for the way forward. These include a possible two-step process of firstly improving internal WASH sector coordination with a view to much closer integration with the Local Development Fund in the medium-term. Ultimately, political pressure and leverage of central government, development partners, and local government on the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development (MoAIWD) will be instrumental in determining the pace and scope of devolution in the sector. [authors abstract]

This is part of the Triple-S (Sustainable Services at Scale) Water services that last-project.

Notes

With 8 references

Custom 1

200

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Disclaimer

The copyright of the documents on this site remains with the original publishers. The documents may therefore not be redistributed commercially without the permission of the original publishers.