http://www.engineeringnews.co.za
  SEARCH
Login
R/€ = 14.22Change: -0.23
R/$ = 11.16Change: -0.09
Au 1240.10 $/ozChange: -4.17
Pt 1243.50 $/ozChange: -18.70
 
 
Note: Search is limited to the most recent 250 articles. Set date range to access earlier articles.
Where? With... When?








Start
 
End
 
 
And must exclude these words...
Close Main Search
Close Main Login
My Profile News Alerts Newsletters Logout Close Main Profile
 
Agriculture   Automotive   Chemicals   Competition Policy   Construction   Defence   Economy   Electricity   Energy   Environment   ICT   Metals   Mining   Science and Technology   Services   Trade   Transport & Logistics   Water  
What's On Press Office Tenders Suppliers Directory Research Jobs Announcements Contact Us
 
 
 
RSS Feed
Article   Comments   Other News   Research   Magazine  
 
 
May 04, 2012

Making water and sanitation a reality for all Africans

Back
Africa|PROJECT|Project Management|Resources|Systems|Water|Africa|Benin|Mozambique|Tanzania|USD|Gross Domestic Product|Maintenance|Sanitation Services|Services|Systems|Water Systems|Environmental|Infrastructure|Jamal Saghir|Water|Sub-Saharan Africa
Africa|PROJECT|Project Management|Resources|Systems|Water|Africa|Tanzania||Maintenance|Services|Systems||Environmental|Infrastructure|Water|
africa-company|project|project-management|resources|systems-company|water-company|africa|benin|mozambique|tanzania|usd|gross-domestic-product|maintenance|sanitation-services|services|systems|water-systems|environmental|infrastructure|jamal-saghir|water|subsaharan-africa
© Reuse this



By: Jamal Saghir

Dirty water and poor sanitation sicken and kill tens of thousands of people each year in sub-Saharan Africa and imposes a heavy economic cost on countries that is equivalent to 1.4% of the gross domestic product (GDP) of some countries.

Since access to potable water and sanitation was first recognised as a Millennium Development Goal (MDG) in 2000, budgets for water and sanitation have grown in much of Africa. But bigger budgets and more spending have not significantly expanded access to services in most countries. This is because the continent’s population continues to grow at a fast rate, the extra public financing is not being effec- tively spent, too little is being done to maintain existing water facilities and infrastructure and water systems in countries embroiled in conflict have been destroyed or damaged.

Recently, the World Bank and the United Nations Children’s Fund, or Unicef, cohosted a high-level Ministerial dialogue on sanitation and water, which took stock of the water and sanitation situation around the world. This provided a vital opportunity for governments, donors, civil society, the private sector and other key partners to confront the stark truth that safe water and sanitation in Africa remain out of reach of many, especially poor people.

In a recent World Bank study of water and sanitation services in 15 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, it found that public spending still falls considerably short of government commitments and of inter- national and national policy goals. On average, governments spent $1.71 per person on water supply and sanitation, which equates to less than 0.5% of GDP and is five times lower than what is estimated to be needed each year to meet sub-Saharan Africa’s MDG targets.

It was also found that actual patterns of spending stand in stark contrast to the economic and social rationales behind such spending. Too small a share of available funds is spent to expand poor people’s access to essential services and to address the health and environmental problems created by unsafe water. Too little is spent on maintaining water supply infrastructure. Too little is spent on sanitation. Too great a share of public funding goes to subsidising water for richer citizens who can afford to pay unsubsidised prices. Too great a share is wasted by inefficient utility practices, such as overstaffing and underbilling, for example.

Targeting public spending on the poor will call for well-off citizens to pay for the water they use. Water and sanitation cannot develop sustainably until the wealthy begin paying for their services so that public financing can be directed to where it is needed most – to improve the lives of poor people.

Low utility tariffs are a major issue. However, before making changes to the tariffs, utilities should improve their effi- ciency by addressing their low billing and collection ratios. Promoting better maintenance of existing assets can cut spending on costly rehabilitation, thus increasing the budget available for expanding access.

While many African governments have updated their water policies, they have been less effective in terms of putting them into practice, with national and local governments unsure about their respective duties. Tanzania, a notable exception, has embraced a decentralised approach to water and sanitation, where national government transfers to Tanzanian local governments reached nearly 40% of the water budget in 2008, up from zero in 2005.

Only two-thirds of water and sanitation budgets are actually spent. To improve budget execution, government capacities in project management, especially at local level, will need to be strengthened to make well- intentioned plans succeed. More detailed planning and speedier pro- curement will decrease the number of abandoned works and reduce delays.

Fortunately, there are some positive examples. For example, Benin has combined reforms of public expendi- ture management, while developing new investment programmes. Donors helped government to improve its management and implementation capacity so that the allocated funds could be spent within a budget cycle. Between 2001 and 2008, the number of new water points built each surged more than fourfold. Meanwhile, better budgeting and greater transparency in public financing persuaded several donors to increase their funding to Benin.

Finally, it was found that donor funds were often badly targeted and unpredict- able, resulting in execution rates that are lower than those of internal resources. Donors need to work together more closely and organise themselves behind a country’s water and development plans. Donor funding is critical, as internal spending is not enough to fund improved water and sanitation. But donor funds are often fragmented.

One water utility in Mozambique, for example, had 19 separate donors in 2008. Donor funding commitments for the coming years are a good start. But greater harmonisation and pooling of their aid money are vital to avoid overwhelming a country’s ability to plan, budget, implement and report back to the donors on how their aid is being used. As a first step, development partners should consider forming a donor group for the sector to jump-start the necessary pooling, harmonisation and joint evaluation.

The World Bank review revealed a lack of efficient public spending and showed how better-off citizens end up capturing the benefits of public spending on water and sanitation at the expense of poorer people. The emotional argument for more expendi- ture on clean water and better sanitation will be greatly strengthened by improving the targeting and execution of public spending so that clean drinking water and healthy sanitation services become a reality for all Africans.

 

  • Saghir is director for sustainable development for the Africa region at the World Bank.
Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu
© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Other News This Week News
The broad-based black economic-empowerment (BBBEE) alignment process in the con-struction sector has begun, dur-ing which the sector codes of the Construction Sector Charter Council (CSCC) will be aligned with the revised Codes of Good Practice (CoGP), which come...
It is second time lucky for Toby Venter. Ten years ago he negotiated to buy the Kyalami racetrack, but “the deal did not materialise”.
Environmental solutions company I-Cat started construction work on its R22-million, 1 949 m2 environmentally sustainable office and warehouse facility, commissioned by I-CAT Environmental Solutions, at a launch event in October. The new sustainable I-CAT campus,...
More
 
 
Latest News
Updated 29 minutes ago Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene confirmed a further direct allocation to power utility Eskom of at least R20-billion. But he also stressed on Wednesday that the injection would have no impact on the Budget deficit as the capital would be raised through the sale of...
Updated 29 minutes ago Government’s plans for reining in the country’s public procurement would be outlined in the Public Procurement Review, which will be published next month. Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene told Parliament on Wednesday that the document would “clearly” outline the...
Updated 29 minutes ago National Treasury this week froze the public personnel headcount and embarked on a review of funded vacancies in an effort to curb State spending and re-establish a sustainable foundation for the public purse. In his inaugural Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement...
More
 
 
Recent Research Reports
Defence 2014: A review of South Africa's defence industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Defence 2014 report examines South Africa’s defence industry, with particular focus on the key participants in the sector, the innovations that have come out of the sector, local and export demand, South Africa’s controversial multibillion-rand...
Road and Rail 2014: A review of South Africa's road and rail infrastructure (PDF report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2014 report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and the push to move road...
Real Economy Year Book 2014 (PDF Report)
This edition drills down into the performance and outlook for a variety of sectors, including automotive, construction, electricity, transport, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum.
Real Economy Insight: Automotive 2014 (PDF Report)
This four-page brief covers key developments in the automotive industry over the past 12 months, including an overview of South Africa’s automotive market, trade figures, production and the policies influencing the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Construction 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the construction industry over the past 12 months. It provides an overview of the sector and includes details of employment in the sector, infrastructure and municipal spending, as well as insight into companies’...
Real Economy Insight: Electricity 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the electricity industry over the past 12 months, including details of State-owned power utility Eskom’s generation activities, funding and tariffs, independent power producers and prospects for the sector.
 
 
 
 
 
This Week's Magazine
The broad-based black economic-empowerment (BBBEE) alignment process in the con-struction sector has begun, dur-ing which the sector codes of the Construction Sector Charter Council (CSCC) will be aligned with the revised Codes of Good Practice (CoGP), which come...
It is second time lucky for Toby Venter. Ten years ago he negotiated to buy the Kyalami racetrack, but “the deal did not materialise”.
Environmental solutions company I-Cat started construction work on its R22-million, 1 949 m2 environmentally sustainable office and warehouse facility, commissioned by I-CAT Environmental Solutions, at a launch event in October. The new sustainable I-CAT campus,...
IAN EVANS AirWatch file synchronisation and sharing system was initially designed for a large airline company
Effective file synchronisation and sharing across an organisation’s structures can provide the basis for robust mobile-device and document management while maintaining proper backup, version control and content distribution. These are the lessons learned by complex...
Hotel group Carlson Rezidor currently holds the largest hotel pipeline in Africa with 30 hotels and 6 300 rooms under development. The hotel group develops and operates Radisson Blu in the upper upscale segment and Park Inn by Radisson in the mid-market segment. With...
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Alert Close
Embed Code Close
content
Research Reports Close
Research Reports are a product of the
Research Channel Africa. Reports can be bought individually or you can gain full access to all reports as part of a Research Channel Africa subscription.
Find Out More Buy Report
 
 
Close
Engineering News
Completely Re-Engineered
Experience it now. Click here
*website to launch in a few weeks