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Background paper for the Symposium on Sustainable Water Supply and Sanitation: Strengthening capacity for local governance

TitleGaining insight into capacity development at the intermediate level
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsVisscher, JT, Uytewaal, E, Verhagen, J, C. Wells, DSilva, Adank, M
Secondary TitleBackground paper for the Symposium on Sustainable Water Supply and Sanitation: Strengthening capacity for local governance

This paper provides background information on the symposium 'Sustainable Water Supply and Sanitation: Strengthening Capacity for Local Governance' in Delft. It presents the three main issues to be addressed at the symposium: the intermediate level, good governance and capacity development. The paper proposes that approaching the intermediate level from the starting point of the actors involved is too complex, as actors may perform more than one function and functions may overlap. It suggests that this picture can be made much clearer by looking at the different functions. It identifies two main functions at the intermediate level: governance of service provision and providing support to service providers.

The paper stresses that capacity development at the intermediate level is crucial to achieving the MDGs. Local service providers and users cannot efficiently build and ensure a sustained performance of water supply and sanitation systems in the developing world without a suitable enabling environment, good governance, adequate support and competent staff.

In many countries capacity development efforts focus primarily on improving the enabling environment (policy reform, legislation, regulation) and human resources (particularly training), rather than on structural strengthening of sector organisations. Furthermore it is much more common to train service providers than intermediate level staff. It is concluded that a better insight is needed into the role of the intermediate level, and that capacity development requires a strategy and motivation. It also needs to involve existing organisations to benefit from available resources. Sharing knowledge and experience is a prerequisite for all those involved to improve sector performance, and it is essential to acquire a much better understanding of the costs involved in capacity development.

The paper ends with a number of key questions that will be posed to the presenters of the case studies at the symposium.


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