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The adequate functioning of water supply and sanitation services is a key element in economic and social development.

TitleSector trends in the water and sanitation sector : background paper : meeting on Sector Wide Approaches, Geneva 2-5 October 2000
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2000
AuthorsVisscher, JT, Blokland, MW, Moriarty, PB, Saade, L
Pagination11 p.
Date Published2000-08-31
PublisherIHE (International Institute for Infrastructural, Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering)
Place PublishedDelft, The Netherlands
Keywordsdevelopment cooperation, institutional development, netherlands, policies, sanitation, sdipol, water resources management, water supply

The adequate functioning of water supply and sanitation services is a key element in economic and social development. Because these services, especially water supply, are basic services and are strongly correlated with improved public health, their operation, under utility or community management arrangements, affects both economic development in general as well as poverty alleviation policies.

Among the main constraints that most developing countries are facing in the water and sanitation sector are: poor levels and quality of service, inadequate pricing, lack of autonomy,a highly centralised sector, lack of accountability, lack of continuation of policies and programs, low levels of productivity and efficiency and inadequate training for management and operational staff. Consequently, the availability of clean water and adequate sanitation is still a dream in many parts of the developing world.

In order to address the above mentioned constraints, strategies for more effective water management that have been formulated in a succession of respected international water forums include decentralisation, cost recovery, private sector participation and capacity building.

Dutch sectoral policy recognises that water supply and sanitation are of fundamental importance for poverty alleviation, women, the environment and public health. And that it is desirable to devolve responsibilities to the lowest appropriate level. The linked cross-cutting issues of gender, equity, and poverty alleviation are by now well entrenched. The main commitments of the Dutch government include the recognition of Integrated Water Resources Management, and the importance of implementing the Dublin Principles, support to the Vision 21 initiative, and support to the Ministerial statement from the 2nd World Water Forum.

The introduction of SWAPs is likely to enforce the trend that bilateral assistance moves away from investment support and instead focuses on institutional development and capacity building. Dutch experience with institutional development in water and sanitation in the framework of development cooperation has been disappointing. Strategies for improvement include for improved analysis in preparation, acceptance of the slow pace of institutional development, the need for long-term commitment and innovative approaches.

SWAPs in the water and sanitation sector are proposed to be assessed against the content and quality of national sector programmes, and in particular on the contributions to effective decentralisation and capacity building of local organisations, the integration of hygiene and sanitation, the implementation of demand-driven approaches, increased stakeholder participation, improved cost recovery and good governance.

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