Initiative pour l’alimentation en eau et l'assainissement en milieu rural
An Innovative Regional Framework for Achieving the Water Sector MDGs in Rural Africa
The Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Initiative (RWSSI) was launched in 2003 by the African Development Bank in response to challenges of meeting the targets of the African Water Vision and the MDGs. The overall goal of the RWSSI is to provide full access to water supply and sanitation services for Africa’s rural populations by 2025. This is from a baseline of 47% for water supply and 44% for sanitation in 2000. The 2015 targets for both are set at 80%.
The resources requirement for the attainment of the 80% target by 2015 is estimated at US$ 14.2 billion. The RWSSI was adopted as a regional framework at the first International Conference on Rural water Supply and Sanitation held in Paris in 2005. The Conference resulted in increased investment from development partners, governments and communities in Africa’s water and sanitation sector and the establishment of a dedicated Trust Fund in the Bank.
Significant Achievement but Multiple Implementation Challenges
The achievements are encouraging, but much remains to be done. The 2012 UNICEF/WHO Joint Monitoring Programme report puts Africa’s rural water and sanitation coverage at the end of 2010 as 54% for water supply and 31% for sanitation. Of the 38 Bank-supported programmes in 27 countries at the end of 2012, it is estimated that 56 million and 41 million people have gained access to water supply and sanitation, respectively. Since 2004, the Bank has committed funding of US$ 1.3 billion on RWSSI programmes while other donors and African Governments have contributed some US$ 4.5 billion.The RWSSI Trust Fund has also mobilized some US$ 225 million in pledges from donors, of which some US$ 165 has already been met.
Despite these efforts, coverage targets have not been achieved. Delivery challenges faced include a lack of prioritisation of RWSS projects in national plans, the inadequate mobilisation of investments from donors and governments, tenuous coordination of the partnership at the national and regional levels, and weak institutional capacity at the local and national levels. Added to these challenges are programmatic concerns relating to better communication of results, improved governance, and strengthening of linkages within the Bank to ensure that climate change risks are properly minimized.
Reinvigorating RWSSI from Lessons of 8 Years of Implementation
An independent external review and assessment of RWSSI was undertaken in 2011 to determine its relevance, effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability. RWSSI emerged as a unique, region-wide initiative established and directed at addressing Africa’s basic WSS needs. It is delivering appropriate outcomes (albeit at a slower rate); it provides a long-term coordinated framework of partnership engagement, and has enhanced the programmatic approach contributing to strengthening of national and local capacities and long term commitment.
The main challenges were identified as, namely, ambitious yet necessary targets; low investments; the lack of awareness of RWSSI’s regional nature limiting its potential impact; weak monitoring and knowledge sharing systems; an insufficient focus on sanitation issues, and the need for accelerated capacity building and programme delivery, with a special focus on the needs of fragile states. The assessment came out with a strong recommendation for the development of a forward-looking Strategic Plan that addresses the RWSSI’s weaknesses and builds on its strong attributes, as a basis for reinvigorating the Initiative.
RWSSI Strategic Plan (2012 – 2015): Delivering Basic Services in Rural Africa
The RWSSI Strategic Plan 2012-2015 (SP) has been developed, setting a clear vision, strategic priorities and outcomes for the planning period -- as a response to the recommendations of the independent operational review and assessment.
The RWSSI Vision and Mission: The RWSSI vision is to ensure that all people in rural Africa have a minimum standard of sustainable water supply and sanitation services in line with the Africa Water Vision 2025. The RWSSI’s mission is to serve as a regional framework for a coordinated response to mobilize the partners, knowledge, and investments needed to meet the 2015 MDG targets and the 2025 African Water Vision targets for rural areas in Africa.
Strategic Goal and Objectives: The strategic goal of the RWSSI is to provide basic WSS services to all people living in Africa’s rural areas by 2025, with programme delivery supported by four focal areas, namely: (i) improved RWSSI governance; (ii) government-led/demand-driven financing; (iii) stronger linkages to climate change resilience, and (iv) knowledge management and better reporting of results. The objective is to mobilise all stakeholders around a common framework to attain the MDG targets of 70% and 62% for water supply and sanitation, respectively, by 2015.
Operational Components: The recommendations from the review and assessment of RWSSI operations and the above four focal areas also informed the Strategic Plan’s five operational components, namely: (i) Enhance RWSSI Programme Governance by strengthening national and regional coordination and capacity within the Bank; (ii) Improve RWSSI subsector governance and enabling environment; (iii) Enhance subsector investments; (iv) Promote sustainability of RWSSI systems, and (v) Strengthen Knowledge and Accountability through knowledge generation and dissemination and improving sector monitoring and reporting.
Mobilising Investment for Accelerating Services Provision
An additional 155 million people need to be provided with water supplies and 226 million with sanitation services if the MDG targets for rural Africa are to be met. The funding gap to meet this objective is estimated at US$ 8.0 billion. Approximately 60% of this investment is for water supply while 40% is for sanitation. The required investment will be mobilised through a coordinated partnership between African governments, development partners and key stakeholders.
There is need for increased budgetary allocations by African governments and contributions by beneficiary communities, increased bilateral and multilateral financing by donors and international institutions, and increased support through NGOs and the private sector. The strategy envisages that investments will be mobilised by the Bank, from multilateral/bilateral sources, and from governments and communities. African Countries are expected to take the lead by providing a significant increase in funding, as called for by the 2008 Sharm El Sheikh Commitments of the African Heads of State and Governments.
The RWSSI Trust Fund: A Special Window for Direct Commitment
The RWSSI Trust Fund has thus far mobilized some US$ 225 million from donors (France, Denmark, Netherlands, Switzerland and Canada) in support of RWSSI programme activities. The Trust Fund seeks to mobilize an additional US$320 million in support of the 2012-2015 programmes from governments, development partners and other donors. Governments, multilateral and bilateral financial institutions, foundations, NGOs, private sector actors and other stakeholders are called upon to strengthen partnerships, to increase resources commitments and to coordinate efforts under the RWSSI framework for accelerated delivery of basic water and sanitation services.
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