Is ‘access to adequate and equitable sanitation’ for all by 2030 achievable?

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Is ‘access to adequate and equitable sanitation’ for all by 2030 achievable?

Hello,

This paper has been recently published in the Journal of Water Sanitation and Hygiene for Development (2016, Vol. 6, No. 4): "Is ‘access to adequate and equitable sanitation’ for all by 2030 achievable? Perspectives from sector experts on what needs to change to realise the Sustainable Development Goal" http://washdev.iwaponline.com/content/6/4/650

Copying the abstract below.
Do get in touch if this is of interest.

Andrés Hueso
Senior Policy Analyst – Sanitation
WaterAid





Abstract

The global community has set the goal of universal access to sanitation by 2030. In the face of limited progress, business as usual is not an option for sanitation sector actors. Through an expert consultation, this paper aims to shed light on the changes needed. Experts believe that in the past, sanitation was regarded as a taboo and a private issue, and given low political prioritisation. This resulted in inadequate financing, capacity and institutions. Programmes were implemented in an uncoordinated manner outside government systems. They focused on infrastructure, neglecting behaviour change or addressing it with blanket approaches. The poor remained unreached, especially in urban areas. Poor collaboration and insufficient learning hindered progress in the sector. However, experts also highlight that prioritisation has nowadays reached unprecedented levels, opening up opportunities for progress. A consensus is starting to emerge on how to address past blockages and on the key knowledge gaps and sector priorities, including focusing on how to deliver urban sanitation, ensuring government leadership and sector harmonisation, and getting better at changing behaviour. However, it will be even more crucial that the key institutions in the sanitation sector display leadership and move towards more collaborative, adaptive and learning-oriented ways of working.

Andrés Hueso
Senior Policy Analyst – Sanitation
WaterAid

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  • muench
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Re: Is ‘access to adequate and equitable sanitation’ for all by 2030 achievable?

Dear Andrés,

Thanks a lot for posting the information about your paper here. (I understand that the fee of around 3000 US$ made it prohibitive to make it non-paywalled)

No problem, perhaps we could discuss some of your findings anyhow.

I am wondering:
(1)
how did you do this "expert consultation" and how many experts took part? Was it done through a survey?

(2)
You stated that

However, experts also highlight that prioritisation has nowadays reached unprecedented levels, opening up opportunities for progress.

Sounds great. If you had to provide any references for this, was anyone able to prove this statement with hard and fast facts or figures, or was it more of a gut feeling? I would share this gut feeling but it would be great to have good evidence for it.

(3)
You said

"However, it will be even more crucial that the key institutions in the sanitation sector display leadership and move towards more collaborative, adaptive and learning-oriented ways of working."

Are you able to elaborate a bit on this here? What kind of learning-oriented ways do you mean? Would posting and reading on this Forum count? ;-)

Regards,
Elisabeth

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  • andreshuesoWA
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Re: Is ‘access to adequate and equitable sanitation’ for all by 2030 achievable?

Hi Elizabeth,

Replying to your questions

(1) how did you do this "expert consultation" and how many experts took part? Was it done through a survey?

R: I contacted around 30 sanitation experts and ended up interviewing 18. It was through individual semi-structured in-depth interviews, either through skype or in person.

(2) You stated that However, experts also highlight that prioritisation has nowadays reached unprecedented levels, opening up opportunities for progress.

R: Some examples they referred to:
Inclusion of access to sanitation as an MDG target -2003
Declaration of the International Year of Sanitation -2008
Recognition as a Human Right -2010

But also the emergence of new donors (eg Gates) and a general rise in the profile of the sector.

(3)
You said
"However, it will be even more crucial that the key institutions in the sanitation sector display leadership and move towards more collaborative, adaptive and learning-oriented ways of working."
Are you able to elaborate a bit on this here? What kind of learning-oriented ways do you mean? Would posting and reading on this Forum count?

R: I think the structures, logic and funding streams that the sector has many times leads to -especially at the national level- isolated and target-driven implementation of sanitation. We need to acknowledge that sanitation is a complex issues (infrastructure, behaviour, public good, service dimension...) and embrace it. Eg having more flexible targets, more frequent feedback loops (are we moving in the right direction, do we need to course correct), and embedding incentives for collaboration and learning.
To answer the last question I would need to have a clearer picture about the people that read and post in this forum, but what I have in mind would probably be more of national and local level learning mechanisms.

Regards,

Andrés

Andrés Hueso
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WaterAid

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  • Marijn Zandee
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Re: Is ‘access to adequate and equitable sanitation’ for all by 2030 achievable?

Dear Andres,

I think your paper would be very interesting to read as it seems to touch on a lot of subjects I have been trying to think about. (see for example this thread: forum.susana.org/forum/categories?func=v...&id=18970&limit=1000 )

One crucial bite, for me, from your abstract:

including focusing on how to deliver urban sanitation, ensuring government leadership and sector harmonisation

(my emphasis)

Did you identify any drivers for governments to assume this leadership role? To my mind that is a key question.

Related to this, the section:

Experts believe that in the past, sanitation was regarded as a taboo and a private issue, and given low political prioritisation


Seems to imply that even in countries where there has been significant development in other fields sanitation has lagged. Did you do/find any research on this? Is there a (consistent) lag (perhaps only temporary) between development and improving sanitiation? Or is there, perhaps, a correlation that governments who are successfully stimulating development are also more successful in improving sanitation?

Regards

Marijn

Marijn Zandee

Kathmandu, Nepal

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  • andreshuesoWA
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Re: Is ‘access to adequate and equitable sanitation’ for all by 2030 achievable?

Hi Marijn,
thanks for your comments.

I did not look into detail at how to ensure government leadership in this paper, but if you ask me, first you need some sort of national level political commitment. Based on my experience, things that have helped achieve this include making the 'economic' case for sanitation (eg WSP's Economics of Sanitation work), increasing demand from population, and international fora and commitments (SDGs, organising regional sanitation meetings, or the Sanitation and Water for All high level meeting as the one that just took place).
We have recently published some research on what happens after that, in case you are interested: www.wateraid.org/fromwilltoaction

Regarding development of sanitation vs other fields, no systematic research into it, but I'd say it works both ways. Eg East Asian countries that prioritised sanitation early on ( www.wateraid.org/what-we-do/our-approach...81-931b-d5b97a9456a3 ). Or the opposite more recently with India moving very slowly in terms of sanitation coverage while its poorer neighbours (Nepal, Bangladesh) were making tremendous progress.

Regards

Andrés

Andrés Hueso
Senior Policy Analyst – Sanitation
WaterAid

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