The impact of COVID-19 on the world's economies is an irrefutable proof that solving water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) challenges go beyond the public health imperative. Now, more than ever, finance ministers can look for opportunities to collaborate with their peer in other ministries to develop financial policies that contribute to lasting solutions.
The SWA Civil Society partners have jointly created the following messages to be used as talking points to engage with the Ministries of finance to improve transparency, accountability and targeting of financing for the most marginalized. CSOs may adapt these messages to their regional, national, sub-national and local contexts.
On transparency, accountability and budget allocation, the SWA Civil Society partners urge the Ministers of Finance to:
1. Establish transparent systems at national, sub-national and local levels, making it mandatory for voluntary public disclosure of all information related to financial allocation and utilization, especially for those left behind. In order to,
- Ensure the quality and integrity of information by developing standards and encouraging citizen reviews.
- Make it mandatory for all non-governmental entities (including the private sector) to follow the principle of voluntary disclosure of financial information related to their investments in the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector.
- Ensure all financial contributions (including community contributions) are accounted for in the local government and national sector reports. Moreover, incorporate this information into the sector budgeting processes.
2. Establish robust and inclusive accountability mechanisms to ensure that budgets are fully utilized for the intended purpose, efficiently spent and well accounted.
- Identify the weaknesses in the public financial management system, including why finances aren’t flowing and improve the way that funds are disbursed.
- Ensure adequate financial and contract management control systems and internal audit capacities in line ministries and sub-national institutions.
- Ensure compliance for government ministries in paying their water utility bills to ensure the costs are not passed to the customer.
On targeting financing for the most marginalized, the SWA Civil Society partners urge the Ministers of Finance to:
1. Ensure budget processes are inclusive and transparent by creating and/or strengthening the mechanisms for participation by the most marginalized in the budget planning processes.
2. Support Sector Ministers’ to develop a robust and comprehensive national financing strategy which contains clear annual financing targets and dedicated budget lines for the most marginalized and includes policies promoting their financial inclusion.
3. Improve the system for subsidies and ensure they are not just supporting those in the highest income levels but are inclusive and targeted towards the most marginalized.
- Tariff systems can be redesigned to be more equitable as affordability is a key principle of the human right to water and sanitation.
- Target those left behind: existing subsidies target networked services, which are mostly unavailable in poor neighbourhoods. Existing subsidies should make use of targeting mechanisms that can direct resources to the poor. CSOs can work closely with governments and utilities in helping to identify the needs of those left behind.
- Foster and help reinforce cross-subsidies and cross-sectoral coordination across water, sanitation and hygiene, health services, education, nutrition and livelihoods.