EU Water and Sanitation Projects in Sub-Saharan Africa - European court of Auditors 10 year report (2012)

  • arno
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EU Water and Sanitation Projects in Sub-Saharan Africa - European court of Auditors 10 year report (2012)

Came across a rather revealing new (Sept 28, 2012) report from the EU Court of Auditors that is rather critical about the EU development assistance in Sub-Saharan Africa in water and sanitation projects. The Special Report No 13/2012 “European Union Development Assistance for Drinking-Water Supply and Basic Sanitation in Sub-Saharan Countries”
eca.europa.eu/portal/pls/portal/docs/1/16800740.PDF covers the period from 2001 to 2010 and over 1 billion Euros in contracts. The report only examines 6 of the >50 countries that have received assistance. But still the message is clear.

The press release “Water and sanitation projects in sub-Saharan Africa - EU Commission could and should do better” - EU Auditors is exceptionally critical. eca.europa.eu/portal/pls/portal/docs/1/16786739.PDF

The principles findings are nothing new to many of us. But assembled in this fashion, the sector is seen as highly dysfunctional and has a lot of homework to do. The principles of sustainable sanitation are missing in these projects and are badly badly needed. Nothing less than a revamp in how these projects are executed by the EU is called for.

Reports findings:
Overall, equipment was installed as planned and was in working order.
——
However, fewer than half of the projects examined delivered results meeting the beneficiaries’ needs.
——
Overall the projects examined promoted the use of standard technology and locally available materials: they were sustainable in technical terms.
——
For a majority of projects, results and benefits will not continue to flow in the medium and long term unless non-tariff revenue is ensured; or because of institutional weaknesses (weak capacity by operators to run the equipment installed).
——
The Commission’s project management procedures cover sustainability comprehensively but the Commission did not make good use of those procedures to increase the likelihood that projects will bring lasting benefits.

Arno Rosemarin
Stockholm Environment Institute

Arno Rosemarin PhD
Stockholm Environment Institute
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  • jkeichholz
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Re: EU Water and Sanitation Projects in Sub-Saharan Africa - European court of Auditors 10 year report

Thx, Arno! Interesting material.

I wonder what kind of effects the audit results will have on future projects?

Juergen Eichholz
watsan eng.
water, sanitation, IT & knowledge management
www.saniblog.org

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  • muench
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Re: EU Water and Sanitation Projects in Sub-Saharan Africa - European court of Auditors 10 year report

Dear Arno,

Thanks for bringing this report to our attention! I think it makes for very interesting reading and I am very pleased that it has been made publicly available (even via a press release). It is also interesting that they have added in the Appendix a reply by the Commission on the report findings by the Court of Auditors.

Here is a statement from the report which I liked (page 43):

39.
The Commission agrees with the Court that the sanitation
component has not been sufficiently addressed in the
past. The Commission now acknowledges its importance
and requests hygiene and sanitation to be duly addressed
when submitting proposals for the Water Facility.


Also useful is ANNEX IV on ASSESSMENT OF THE PROJECTS AUDITED which uses colour coding to give a form of good/bad/OK rating on different aspects.

And here another interesting quote from page 26 about the timing of "final reports" - the later the better!

Final evaluations are, as a rule, launched before or shortly after completion
of project activities, and thus are too early to assess sustainability.
On the other hand ex-post monitoring or ex post evaluations are carried
out well after the end of the project to specifically address the issue of
sustainability. Whilst 10 of the 23 projects examined were subject to final
evaluation, in only two cases out of 20 that could have been subject to
ex post monitoring did this occur.


What I am missing (and this also interests me as a European tax payer!) is:
(1)
How much did it cost to reach one person (Euros spent per person)?

(2)
Did we really reach the poorest quintile, including people with disabilities? Page 21 says about this:

Nevertheless, although all the projects were intended to focus on the
needs of the poor, six cases were found where the poorest and most
vulnerable did not have access to drinking water and basic sanitation.


(3)
And I also wonder how do the EU-funded projects interact with those projects funded by individual European states, e.g. Germany, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, UK, France... And: is there any advantage/disadvantage in doing development cooperation via individual European countries or via the EU? Would the aim be to ultimately bundle all the country's development cooperation programs together and only do it under one unified EU system?

(4)
How do the findings of this report compare to other EU programs in other sectors? Are the problems the same or are they specific to our sector?

Finally, one small example where EU money seems to have interfered with a common-sense solution (I don't know if this was just an isolated case or if this happens more regularly). In the Namibian town of Omaruru, a pilot project with Otji toilets (these work like urine-diverting dry toilets) showed promising results and very good acceptance by the users. But the municipality of Omaruru didn't want to scale up these Otji toilets mainly because they were expecting to a get a grant from the EU soon to get a flush toilet, sewer and wastewater treatment system (even though this system would most likely be unaffordable to run in the longer term; this issue of lacking financial sustainability is also mentioned in the Auditor's report mentioned above). You can read more about this case in this paper which I helped edit for the recent Dry Toilet Conference (and there is also a SuSanA case study about it):

Ingle, R., Berdau, S., Kleemann, F., Arndt, P. (2012). What does it take to convince decision makers in Omaruru, Namibia to scale up urine diversion dehydration “Otji toilets”?. 4th International Dry Toilet Conference, Tampere, Finland.
www.susana.org/lang-en/library?view=ccbktypeitem&type=2&id=1608

Regards,
Elisabeth

Community manager and chief moderator of this forum via SEI project ( www.susana.org/en/resources/projects/details/127 )

Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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  • jonpar
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Re: EUROPEAN UNION DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE FOR DRINKING WATER SUPPLY AND BASIC SANITATION IN SUB-SAHARAN COUNTRIES

EUROPEAN UNION DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE FOR DRINKING WATER SUPPLY AND BASIC SANITATION
IN SUB-SAHARAN COUNTRIES

The report is a few year old but I've not seen it before. Have a look at the section on FINANCIAL SUSTAINABILITY on pages 16-18.

Although we could say this is nothing new, it is important to review the findings from these evaluations as it really brings the messages home.

Main findings :

26. Once handed over, the benefits of water and sanitation projects are only assured if they have sufficient reliable income to cover running costs, including routine maintenance, as well as repairs when necessary.

27. Project designs include plans to ensure sustainability after handover, and therefore should analyse the locally available possibilities for ensuring financing.

28. Few financial records for the operation of the systems installed were available (particularly for rural projects).

29. In only four of the 23 projects examined were tariffs set at a level to cover running costs. For the others unless transfers and taxes are available, their sustainability is put at risk.

30. In two rural projects in Burkina Faso the price was set by mayors without taking sufficiently into account the need to cover costs. This was also the case in two urban projects examined in Angola where the water price was subsidised. These provide examples where tariffs will be insufficient to cover costs and taxes or transfers will be needed to guarantee sustainability.

31. According to the agency implementing one of the projects audited in Nigeria (‘Cross River State rural water supply and sanitation’), the local population considers water as a free social good and are against households or individuals paying for drinking water.

32. In eight projects, the Court noted widespread problems in billing and collection (low number of connections and significant proportion of water not billed, combined with a weak metering capacity).

Dr. Jonathan Parkinson
Principal Consultant – Water and Sanitation
IMC Worldwide Ltd, Redhill, United Kingdom
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  • muench
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Re: EUROPEAN UNION DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE FOR DRINKING WATER SUPPLY AND BASIC SANITATION IN SUB-SAHARAN COUNTRIES

Dear Jonathan,

Thanks for highlighting this report about European Union Development Assistance in Africa. I have moved your post to the end of this existing thread, and have also moved the thread to this sub-category on monitoring and evaluation where it fits slightly better than in the sub-category on financing (although it would have fitted there as well).

It's been a while since I read the report, but now that you have read it recently, could you perhaps address some of the questions I posed in 2012 about this report? Please scroll up and you'll see my post. Thanks a lot.

(this is one reason why I like this forum so much compared to other online discussion places; it is so easy to find again older discussions on the same topic even if they are three years apart! :-) )

Regards,
Elisabeth

Community manager and chief moderator of this forum via SEI project ( www.susana.org/en/resources/projects/details/127 )

Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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