Day 2.5 - Aid effectiveness background paper towards wash aid effectiveness
Improving Accountability towards Aid
Effectiveness in the Water and Sanitation Sector
Background Paper for the Aid Effectiveness Session of the
Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) Partnership Meeting,
11-15 November 2013, Geneva, Switzerland
By Muyatwa Sitali for the Water and Sanitation Program of the World Bank, with the support of
members of the SWA Country Processes Task Team
SUMMARY: This paper brings out lessons on aid effectiveness from two SWA partner countries, Niger and
Liberia and two other sectors, education and health. Recommendations in this paper are mainly fourfold. Firstly that the SWA as a partnership can strengthen dialogue and knowledge on aid effectiveness
looking specifically to improve country level practices in areas that are lagging behind. Secondly, the
sector can focus on developing a common set of practice and performance standards for aid
effectiveness as has been done the education and health sector. These are crucial not only because they
provide milestones to achieve aid and development effectiveness but they also create opportunities for
assessing performance in SWA affiliated countries compared to non-SWA affiliated countries. In addition
they improve the quality and focus of aid dialogue at country level. Thirdly, SWA can enhance aid
effectiveness reporting either at country or global level. At country level most reports tend to focus on
inputs and outputs without significant attention on the middle ground which concerns ways of delivery
of resources. Both education and health sectors have aid milestones included in the sector plans. Finally,
working through the partnership as a platform for strengthening mutual accountability will remain
significant. Accounting for commitments already taken can be enhanced through the partnership if it
has agreed ways of improving practices including targeting of resources at countries most in need. The
WASH sector can build on current sector actions and incorporate critical lessons from other sectors to
develop a bold and effective road-map to improving practices towards more effective aid.
Table of Contents
Executive Summary............................................................................................................................................ ii
Recommendations ............................................................................................................................................. ii
Introduction ............................................................................................................................................... 1
General Findings and Lessons from Niger and Liberia ............................................................................... 2
Lessons from the Education and Health Sectors ....................................................................................... 4
Lessons from the Health Sector ......................................................................................................... 8
Four Aid Effectiveness Lessons from the Global Partnership for Education ..................................... 5
Five Cross-Cutting Lessons from GPE and IHP+ ............................................................................... 11
What can the WASH sector do with the lessons from within and out-of-sector? .................................. 13
STRATEGIC VISIONING AND PLANNING ................................................................................................. 14
FUNDING ............................................................................................................................................ 14
SYSTEMS STRENGTHENING ................................................................................................................... 15
Operational Delivery ........................................................................................................................ 15
Results and Accountability ............................................................................................................... 16
Conclusion ................................................................................................................................................ 16
Recommendations: What can the SWA do? ............................................................................................ 17
Figure 1. An Example of IHP+ Standard Performance Measures showing Developing Country Performance 11
Figure 2. IHP+ Example of Standard Performance Measure for Donors ......................................................... 11
Table 1.State of play of Aid effectiveness in Education Sector, 2010................................................................ 8
Table 2: Aid Effectiveness Milestones ............................................................................................................. 13
Table 3. Aligning external aid with government systems ............................................................................... 15
Annex 1 Aid effectiveness indicators: results in the education sector, 2010 .................................................. 19
Annex 2: IHP+ Results Standard Performance Measures ................................................................................ 20
Annex 3. IHP+ Standard Performance Measures for Developing Countries ................................................... 21
Annex 4. IHP+ Standard Performance Measures for Donors and Multilateral Agencies ................................ 21
Annex 5: IHP+ Results Standard Performance Measures ................................................................................ 22
Most SWA developing country and donor governments, and multilateral partners, have already committed
to international principles of effective aid. This paper aims at broadening understanding of current aid
effectiveness practices within the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector. Two WSP commissioned
case studies from Liberia and Niger were used to better understand how the sector is progressing towards
the five Paris Declaration aid effectiveness principles. Additional insights were drawn from the education
and health sector and cross cutting lessons have been used to provide preliminary insights into progress,
gaps and challenges surrounding accountability to the aid effectiveness agenda.
Success is being scored to varying degrees on a number of Paris aid effectiveness principles but progress is
not without challenges. Both Liberia and Niger have water and sanitation plans that are anchored in
national development plans and thus have considerable ownership. However both countries are yet to 1)
strengthen the sector plans’ linkages with Medium Term Expenditure Frameworks, 2) improve core country
systems and adherence to use of national systems 3) resolve absorption capacity bottlenecks and 4)
strategically ensure that plans and leadership incorporate key aspects of aid effectiveness. Donors have
supported the development of plans and are financing most of the sector investment in each of the
countries. Their financing however is tipped more towards improving access thereby leaving critical aspects
of institutional development and capacity building poorly funded. Harmonization is also weak as there are
no joint donor frameworks for disbursement, reporting, monitoring and evaluation. Almost all donors
except for one in Niger are not disbursing through program based financing and thus project approaches
still dominate. It is impressive however to note the continued engagement around Joint Sector Reviews
which presents opportunities for discussing critical aspects of improving aid delivery and results of
The water and sanitation sector in Niger and Liberia is also significantly reliant on aid. At least 70% of
funding in the sector is from donors and this seems to be the case in several other countries (DFI and
Oxfam 2013). In Liberia government funds are projected to cover only 11% of the sector investment plan.
Niger’s Country Status Overview (CSO) estimated that donor funding covered at least 90% of capital
expenditures. At least two conclusions are clear from this analysis. Firstly, that domestic allocations must
increase if dependence on aid is to be reduced. Secondly, given that most of the resources in the sector are
from aid, finding ways of making these resources more effective at building country capacity should
constitute a critical agenda for the sector.
Lessons from the health and education sector point to major advancements in internalizing aid
effectiveness at the sector level. Both sectors have defined common visions, aid effectiveness standard
performance measures which include explicit requirements for improving aspects such as harmonization
and alignment. The sectors also regularly assess their performance on aid effectiveness by measuring the
practices of both donors and aid receiving countries. This is helpful to understand how each actor can
improve its performance on key principles.
While the WASH sector is making progress on the aid effectiveness principles, current practices are missing
opportunities to build sector capacity and be more agile and holistic with regards to aid effectiveness
principles. Improvements can be pursued in a number of areas including by:
Strengthening knowledge and dialogue on aid effectiveness
The SWA guiding principle seven1 clearly supports aid effectiveness as agreed at Paris (2005) and Accra
(2008) but current actions need more impetus for this to be achieved. The SWA can work to strengthen the
practice intended and implied by guiding principle number seven of the SWA. Strengthening dialogue on
what aid effectiveness means for the water and sanitation sector can improve knowledge and help steer
action towards internalization of the principles. Having aid effectiveness in partnership dialogues and
beyond is crucial but ensuring that there are significant ways in which this dialogue informs and influences
action on the ground is even more significant. The SWA can therefore engage in action-seeking and resultsoriented dialogue that improves delivery at national and local levels.
Developing common practice and performance measures for aid effectiveness
Lessons from the Health and Education sectors show that a common framework which internalizes aid
principles and elaborates aspects that are peculiar to the sector provides more clarity on how to progress
towards adherence of aid principles. The WASH sector can build on already existing commitments to the
SWA principles (particularly principle number 7) and agree measurable indicators for better performance in
the sector. This can follow the example of the IHP+ which has Standard Performance Measures or simply an
adoption of the Paris Indicators ‘plus’ which would be built on OECD indicators with WASH specific
measures. The most important aspect seems to be that indicators or practice and performance measures
should be comparable and feed into broadly agreed and already accepted principles.
Improving aid effectiveness reporting
The SWA can be a useful platform for strengthening mutual accountability on aid effectiveness. Already the
GLAAS report seeks to strengthen understanding on financing for the sector. The SWA either through
GLAAS or the SWA progress report could provide complementary information and a sector-wide report on
aid effectiveness focusing on understanding the practices and behavior of government and donor partners.
This report is likely to have more strength if it measures performance against the agreed practice and
performance measures for the sector. Enhancing sector reporting can help with 1) providing a framework
for country level discussions on aid effectiveness; 2) providing global data set for discussions on aid
effectiveness, enhance comparability and accountability in WASH and 3) allow for benchmarking and
improving specific sector aspects that may be particularly challenging across the principles. .
Strengthening the partnership’s role as a platform for mutual accountability and innovation
A concern emerging from Liberia and Niger is how to foster more investments after plans have been
developed. Given that the SWA has commitments made by both donors and countries, it is imperative to
seek ways for improving links between country and global actors’ commitments. The SWA can be a useful
platform for improving targeting of aid but so far current mechanisms are far from successfully targeting
countries that need resources the most. Therefore, the SWA needs to be an effective platform for mutual
accountability and can be bold to innovatively target resources. National plans for example, could include
aid effectiveness targets that are discussed and assessed during the Joint Sector reviews.
SWA guiding principle 7 states ‘Aid effectiveness commitments must be implemented to achieve sanitation and water for all, in
line with the Paris Declaration and Accra Agenda for Action commitments on country ownership, alignment, harmonization,
managing for results, mutual accountability, predictability, country systems, conditionality, and untying aid’.
Strengthening WASH sector systems is vital to improving sector performance, and increasing the
effectiveness of aid in supporting such systems is central to maximizing the value for money of government
and donor spending and - ultimately - achieving universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene services.
Recognizing this, improving accountability towards aid effectiveness in the water and sanitation sector is a
key pillar of the Sanitation and Water for All Partnership2.
The two case studies from Niger and Liberia reviewed in this paper point to a number of lessons that should
be acted upon in the water and sanitation sector. While countries and donors agree on the fundamental
aid effectiveness3 principles such as those espoused by the Paris Declaration and the New Deal for Fragile
States, the action on the ground is far from meeting the expectations of the principles. Current efforts by
governments and donors are putting the sector on a path to better aid delivery but they continue to
require agility and comprehensiveness.
Aid is delivered in a multi-stakeholder environment where actions of one donor can help or impede success
of government or other donor resources thereby causing a ‘multiplier’ or ‘contamination’ effect. Therefore,
the policy changes necessary to deal with WASH aid effectiveness cannot be pursued by a single country –
whether donor or recipient, or a single agency –whether multilateral or private philanthropy. Taking steps
as a partnership is crucial because decisions about aid are not only made by governments or donors at
country level or headquarters alone.
While the Paris Declaration (2005), Accra Agenda for Action (2008), the Busan Partnership Agreement
(2011) and the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States (2011) provide a broad frame for action, they fall
short of providing milestones on what can be done in the sector to internalise aid principles. To this end
sectors such as education and health have agreed sector specific indicators and periodically review their
progress towards sector-wide aid effectiveness. The education sector has agreed indicators that build on
Paris and Accra and doing this within the framework for the Global Partnership for Education has proved to
be helpful. In Health, the International Health Partnership (IHP+) provides standard performance
measurements for achieving the broad aid effectiveness principles. These sectors have showed significant
lessons on how a sector specific aid effectiveness process can be useful to the sector and lessons from
these partnerships on particularly aid effectiveness can be helpful to the WASH sector.
This paper therefore builds on the ongoing work of Sanitation and Water for All partners in particular the
critical lessons emerging from the water and sanitation sector in Liberia and Niger - to help create better
understanding of the state of aid effectiveness in the sector. Building on both the in-sector insights from
Niger and Liberia and the out-of-sector lessons from health and education, the paper provides initial
discussion points on a WASH aid effectiveness process.
2 For more information on the links between aid effectiveness, WASH and SWA, see IRC’s Aid Effectiveness
Information Package http://www.irc.nl/page/80872
The definition of aid effectiveness used in this report is adopted from the Paris Declaration and the Accra Agenda for
Action (OECD 2005, 2008). It is defined as an “arrangement for the planning, management and deployment of aid that
is efficient, reduces transaction costs and is targeted towards development outcomes including poverty reduction.’
2 General Findings and Lessons from Niger and Liberia
The cases of Niger and Liberia bring out a number of critical issues4 for aid effectiveness. At least six of
these become clear and suggest that the water and sanitation sector need to strategically consider how to
deal with development resources especially aid. From the case studies it is apparent that there are no
disagreements about the relevance or appropriateness of the aid effectiveness principles as espoused by
the Paris Declaration, Accra Agenda for Action, Busan Partnership Agreement and the New Deal for
Engagement in Fragile states. The main gap is at the level of practice where current actions are either not
sufficient or largely not on course to achieving what the aid effectiveness principles entail.
1. Persistent Aid Dependence
The water sector is still significantly dependent on aid in low-income countries, particularly countries such
as Niger and Liberia which are emerging from political instability. In Niger the Country Status Overview
(WSP 2011) estimated that aid made up about 90% of sector capital expenditure. In Liberia, at least 72% of
the available financing for the Water and Sanitation Investment Plan is donor and NGO financing while
government financing accounts for only 11%. The rest is comprised of user payments for operations,
maintenance and capital costs. A cross country study by Development Finance International and Oxfam
found that the water and sanitation sector is 70% dependent on aid (DFI and Oxfam 2013).
At least two conclusions are clear from this analysis. Firstly, that domestic allocations need to increase if
dependence on aid is to be minimised. Secondly, given that most of the resources in the sector are from
aid, finding ways of making these resources more effective should constitute a critical factor for the sector
to tackle. This is important given that overall aid is under threat from the effects of the global economic
crisis (OECD 2013) and as aid declines, the need for more effective aid will be apparent.
2. Susceptibility of the sector to broader institutional gaps of parent Ministries
The water and sanitation sector is handled by several government ministries and agencies. In both Liberia
and Niger at least four government agencies and ministries have a critical role to play in planning, delivery
and oversight of water and sanitation. However in most of the Ministries WASH or most of its sub sectors
are seldom the main focus. A number of observations are important to highlight here.
Firstly, that WASH or its sub-sectors gets to be a lesser priority as it is not a stated goal of the Ministry
under which it falls. Consequently ministerial leadership and representation at cabinet level is not
consistent and weak at best. The case of Niger, where Water is a stated component of one of the ministries
(Ministry of Water and the Environment) shows better leadership and representation for the sub-sector
but sanitation is weak precisely because it is split across at least four agencies.
Secondly, it is difficult for institutional reforms and systems to be undertaken because water and sanitation
agencies within government are not big enough to demand their own staffing for example for
procurement. These departments and divisions also often lack political visibility to get the desired attention
for projects. As such, dealing with systems and institutional reforms entails tackling the broader challenges
of the parent ministries. If the government is not undertaking these reforms on its own or is unable to
finance these reforms for parent ministries, WASH donors are often unable to do so. And yet the WASH
These lessons are also the executive summary of the synthesis report for the Niger and Liberia case studies which is
available from WSP.
sector cannot also reform or be expected to reform core country systems. The sector can however try to
link with Ministries and donors who are mainly focussed on country systems reforms.
3. Improving policy and governance environment often not followed by expected investments
A particular obstacle to policy alignment is the lack of policies to align to. When policies exist, they should
be followed by systems. The development of policies, plans and strategies is just the beginning of
improving the enabling environment. The next steps of implementation are bigger but often lack the
necessary agility and resourcing. In both Niger and Liberia, national plans and sector specific programs have
been developed but moving to the next step of adopting an aid effectiveness modality continues to face
Challenges are common on both government and donors’ sides. The expectation that policies will be
followed by quick adoption and implementation is often challenged by a number of bottlenecks. On the
side of government, the rolling-out of plans is limited by among others, capacity gaps especially of human
resource and leadership to enable WASH agencies roll-out the plans; weak systems such as procurement,
reporting and auditing, inadequate resource allocations both from government and donors and low
absorption of budgeted resources. On the part of donors; impediments such as low absorption capacity,
ineffectiveness of procurement systems and the fact that most donors are already pre-locked into existing
funding agreements make it difficult for them to shift resources. In this case plans and policies find
themselves fitting an already existing funding curve and those areas which were not funded remain
orphaned. This is the case in Liberia where capacity building was not an eminent domain of any donor and
thus continues to lack support as current donor funding is for already existing commitments. In Niger,
procurement reforms have not significantly improved the confidence of donors to use government
systems. Equally in Liberia, the development of the Sector Investment Plan has not been followed by the
expected investments. Donors and government need to increase their attention to such orphaned
components of the plan in new funding cycles.
While such ‘teething’ problems can be common when rolling-out public finance management reforms, they
seem to dissuade donors from investing in systems. Thus there are a lot more donors who prefer to ‘waitand-see’ rather than try to provide the institutional and implementation support. Liberia’s capacity
development plan which has key requirements for institutional development remains grossly underfunded.
Neither has the government nor donors stepped up to the challenge of committing and financing the
capacity development plan and yet to sustain services and ensure planning, implementation, M&E
oversight the government will need to have the requisite capacity.
However Niger offers a good example of a donor who is willing to provide pioneering support. The program
approach that is being tested with initial funding from Danida in Niger is enabling the government to have
some measure of control over planning and resourcing. The bottlenecks faced in this pilot program should
serve as improvement points. In Liberia the sector is yet to have a willing forerunner to invest and use
4. Need for cross-sector learning
In the two case study countries, the WASH sector seems to be a late adopter of aid effectiveness principles
and modalities. While the Ministry of Health in Liberia has implemented a pooled fund, a fixed amount
reimbursement agreement and several other modalities have been tried in other sectors in Liberia, the
WASH sector has not yet defined its own. A commitment to migrate to a WASH sector pooled fund has not
been followed through with a definition of how the pooled fund will work. However in Niger, the sector has
advanced in defining a program approach but inertia from donors to use government systems remains a
critical risk to its success. In Niger the education sector developed a sector wide approach which even when
it faced accountability challenges, its donors have resumed its support. Other aid modalities such as trust
funds and vertical funds remain common in other sectors in both countries. These provide learning
opportunities for the sector and pursuing a definition, adoption and roll-out of an effective modality for the
sector remains key given the level of aid dependence.
5. Drastic funding falls beyond 2015: Is it the 2015 Funding Cliff or MDG Effect on Funding horizons?
Predictability is still critical in the water and sanitation sector. There is a general trend that shows that most
of the funding commitments are for a time horizon that matches with the MDGs as financing for water and
sanitation in the case study countries tails off significantly beyond that horizon. Other than showing a
general decline in available funding this also points to the need for critical resource mobilisation to gain
predictability beyond the MDGs. In Niger the funding committed for 2016 is less than half that committed
for 2014 and it is less than a quarter of the total budget needs for that year. In Liberia the scenario is not
anymore different. It is important therefore that while discussions are continuing on the substantative
content of the post-2015 agenda, funding should be allocated and aligned to country plans that have
already defined objectives for longer time frames. The plans for both Niger and Liberia extend beyond 2015
and funding can therefore be aligned to these objectives and targets.
6. Balancing the need for improving Access, Capacity and Institutional Development
In the context of meagre resources, prioritisation of which areas aid should focus on is necessary. This also
goes with the division of labor that is necessary to improve targeting. However in both countries and
especially when institutional arrangements are not well defined and not properly staffed, donors invest
more in access. Institutional development and capacity support remains weak particularly in Liberia. Most
of the financing is still targeting access while institutions and the requisite systems are still not yet
supported. In Niger as there is a specific ministry for Hydraulics and the Environment, it is easy to find
streamlined government and donor resources targeting this institution. When compared with other needs
however, resourcing the institutions and systems remains a critical need that is poorly financed. It is
understandable that in post-conflict or emergency situations, meeting basic needs is the primary concern.
However there should also be a gradual process through which a broader strategic engagement and
support for capacity and institutional development is considered. A balance of support on elements that
facilitate and secure effective planning, delivery and oversight is critical.
3 Lessons from the Education and Health Sectors
It is recognised that both health and education sectors are typically dependent on significant human
resources such as doctors, teachers, nurses and the water and sanitation sector is not set up in the same
way as it is capital intensive. However, the WASH sector has both social and infrastructure characteristics
some of which create similarities with education and health. There are also a number of overlaps between
and among these sectors including in such areas as WASH in schools, and WASH as a preventive component
of healthcare. The lessons regarding how these sectors have developed sector specific milestones and
indicators are relevant. The lessons in this brief build on those outlined by DFID in their paper on
strengthening accountability in the WASH Sector, and also draw significantly from analysis initially done by
WaterAid which looked at Health, Education and Nutrition sectors. The findings are common except that
this paper does not include nutrition. The lessons from the nutrition sector are not significantly different
from what can be drawn from the education and health partnerships. For example, the nutrition sector also
has a global compact which includes aid effectiveness but like the WASH sector, it does not define in detail
aid effectiveness milestones. This is where health and education partnerships are stronger.
3.1 Four Aid Effectiveness Lessons from the Global Partnership for Education
The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) has been at the forefront of the aid effectiveness debate since
the launch of the partnership5 in 2002. From the onset, the GPE was set to do at least two things. ‘It was
not merely created to increase resources for education but as a forum for partners to join forces in support
of education for all goals and MDGs’ (Schmidt 2013).
GPE was established as a ‘global compact’ between low income countries and donor partners. This compact
includes that donors harmonize their aid delivery to the sector, help mobilize resources and make them
more predictable, while beneficiaries need to demonstrate their commitment through adequate and
sustainable domestic financing for education. Typically 70–80 per cent of the costs of education sector
programs are being paid by the countries themselves. The remaining financing is mobilized from bilateral
and multilateral donors and GPE. The OECD and the United Nations have praised the GPE as an excellent
model for donor coordination and collaboration(AusAid 2012).
Linking Mission to Aid effectiveness
The GPE mission to support low-income countries in the development and implementation of quality
education plans, has been tied to the principles
Box 1. GPE Compact on Mutual Accountability
of aid effectiveness—ownership, alignment,
Donors and other partners
harmonization, managing for results, and mutual
accountability—as defined in the GPE Compact
Sound education plans
on Mutual Accountability (box 1). With respect
resources and make
to aid, the GPE’s role is twofold. ‘It provides
them more predictable
education aid through the GPE fund and
Commitment to education
Align with country
advocates for partnerships and aid effectiveness
through strong domestic
in the education sector within countries and
across the globe’ (GPE 2012). In this regard, the
Demonstrate results on
GPE developed and agreed a Compact on mutual
key performance indicators
as much as possible
accountability (Box 1) which has aspects of
Source: GPE 2011 updated in 2013.
ownership, alignment, managing for results and
harmonisation. Its broad guiding principles in the GPE Charter include a) country ownership, b)
benchmarking c) support linked to performance, d) lower transaction costs, e) transparency, f)
The GPE was launched in 2002 as the Fast Track Initiative –Education for All (FTI-EFA) and changed its name to Global
Partnership for Education in 2012.
development results and value for money and g) mutual accountability. The charter principles are mutually
reinforcing with the aid effectiveness principles particularly as regard country ownership, the focus on
results, lowering transaction costs and mutual accountability. With regards the water and sanitation sector,
SWA principles are quite elaborate in linking to aid effectiveness. Guiding Principle number seven of the
SWA6 specifically urges that ‘aid effectiveness commitments must be implemented to achieve Sanitation
and Water for All’ (SWA 2010). How this is done is dependent on global and country level practices and it is
here where the gaps are more pronounced.
Strengthening the Structures of cooperation
The GPE also focusses significant attention at structures that strengthen cooperation and create the
foundation for long term results. Among these are four main elements which are considered crucial sector
policy and coordination pillars that also provide structured arrangements for mutual accountability in the
sector; 1) national education plans, 2) Local Education Groups (LEGs7), 3) a results-oriented framework, and
(4) Joint Sector Reviews (JSRs). GPE countries work to strengthen these pillars as fundamental structures on
which policy and coordination should be built. In their recent review (2013) countries are at various points
of success on each of these pillars. GPE actors however ‘recognize the importance of structured
cooperation in the education sector’ (GPE 2012).
The monitoring exercise shows that the LEGs help strengthen aid effectiveness by, for example, holding
partners accountable for using parallel project implementation units (PIUs) or by discussing the
opportunities and challenges involved in establishing a Program Based Aid (PBA8) or a sector-wide
approach (SWAp). Strengthening the structures of cooperation is also seen to be essential in the realization
of the four objectives of development cooperation in education which include: 1)The country ownership of
education development, including ownership of the support for a sturdy framework for domestic
accountability 2) Inclusive and effective partnerships in education development, 3) Strengthening national
systems by designing aligned aid modalities and harmonized approaches and 4)Delivering and accounting
for results in education.
In this endeavor the GPE has done at least two things. Firstly they have defined the objectives of
development cooperation within the education sector. These objectives are a deliberate but critical
approach in putting country plans, systems and results at the center of development cooperation. They
encapsulate ownership, alignment and managing and accounting for results all of which are critical for aid
to be effective. Secondly they have built on this, key structural pillars for effective policy and cooperation.
These include the education plans, local education groups as a planning, coordination and monitoring
platform and results framework and joint sector reviews as tools for ensuring continued focus on results.
A Local Education Group (LEG) is a collaborative forum of stakeholders within the education sector who develop,
implement, monitor and evaluate Education Sector Plans at the country-level. The LEG ensures that all parties are
kept fully informed of progress and challenges in the sector. The LEG is also involved in: Policy dialogue and
harmonization of donor support in the education sector, Monitoring and promoting progress toward increased aid
effectiveness, Joint Sector Reviews and Mobilizing financial support for education (GPE 2013a).
Programme-based approaches (PBAs) are defined by the OECD as having the following characteristics: 1. Being led
by the host country or organisation; 2. Having a single, comprehensive programme and budget framework; 3. A
formalized process for donor co-ordination and harmonization of donor procedures for reporting, budgeting, financial
management, procurement, monitoring and evaluation; 4. Increased use of partner country systems (OECD 2008).
The broad learning from this is that the GPE as a partnership has defined a vision with objectives that
provide an impetus for action oriented toward more aid effectiveness at country level. The path to
effective action however remains challenging as these were recently agreed and defined. Such a framework
enables the sector actors to work towards ensuring that the structures of cooperation are in place and
where they are weak, support is provided to strengthen them.
Education Sector has incorporated sector specific indicators in measuring aid effectiveness
The education sector has also developed sector specific aid indicators which are added to the global
indicators as measured by the Paris Monitoring framework (see annex 1). The sector for example, assesses
whether a sector plan is GPE endorsed as it is on the basis of such endorsement that national education
plans gain access to the GPE fund. They also look at specific questions such as whether 1) there is sectoral
coordination in the sector; 2) the Local education group exists to enhance coordination and harmonization
and 3) whether the education plan incorporates specific aid effectiveness indicators. These indicators focus
on special needs of the sector and are necessary to determine overall progress. While broader core-country
systems such as procurement, auditing and budgets are still included, zeroing-in to areas that can drive
sector specific needs seems to be critical. On the broad aid modalities and core-country systems such as
PFM, the findings of the 2011 survey are somewhat similar to those in the water and sanitation sector. The
education sector monitoring exercise shows that ‘donor partners use a mix of aid modalities to address
issues, from technical assistance to service delivery’. This is similar to the situation in for example Niger
where there are some donors using program approaches but by and large the use of project approaches
remains the norm rather than the exception. The common approach across the two sectors is the need to
ensure that ‘an aid modality should be designed to support the strengthening of systems and institutions,
while helping achieve results and improving service delivery’(GPE 2012).
At this point it is also important to make a parallel with water and sanitation plans in Liberia and Niger.
With reference to the education plan incorporating sector specific aid effectiveness indicators, both plans
for Niger and Liberia are weak in this respect. They both refer to aid effectiveness but lack specific
measurable indicators for both government and donors. In Niger for example, the objective-based budget
which is an effort to move towards a program approach has milestones for access and funding but falls
short of clearly outlining what is needed for better aid delivery. While it talks of the use of country systems,
it does not clearly stipulate when and how donors will migrate to using national systems. The plan in Liberia
equally outlines the Paris principles but lacks a measuring framework for achieving these principles.
Measuring the impact of aid effectiveness in GPE and Non-GPE countries
The GPE also measures the effectiveness of the partnership by looking at how its partnership countries are
performing on a number of aid effectiveness indicators when compared with other non-GPE countries. A
2011 survey which looked at the state of play of aid effectiveness in the education sector in 2010 provides
some useful comparative results. For example Table 1 shows results of this survey. GPE countries showed
that they had already achieved 4 indicators including 100% having an education plan in place, 60% having
coordinated technical cooperation, 57% having joint donor missions and 80% having joint analytic works. In
two other indicators including the need to have a performance assessment framework in place and Joint
Sector reviews taking place, GPE countries where also within reach. GPE countries performed better in at
least two of the three indicators where they had serious gaps to achieve the Paris Target (See table 1).
Table 1.State of play of Aid effectiveness in Education Sector, 2010
Source: GPE 2012a
However the picture also shows that in some areas, non-GPE countries were actually doing better such as
in the use of procurement systems and aid being on budget but by and large these were the exceptions and
not the norm. In most places where GPE countries had serious gaps, most other countries also had serious
gaps and on average the percentage was still higher in GPE than overall OECD surveyed countries and nonGPE countries in the survey.
3.2 Lessons from the Health Sector
Looking at aid effectiveness through the lens of the health sector is useful because health has been used as
a ‘tracer sector’ for aid effectiveness. The OECD’s Working Party on Aid Effectiveness ‘decided in 2007 to
incorporate into its work a contribution on health as a “tracer” sector to monitor progress in implementing
the Paris Declaration’(OECD 2009). This is in part because of the high levels of donor support to health and
because health is seen as a crucial underlying factor for many other development indicators, including
across the Millennium Development Goals. Health has also been a sector in which aid effectiveness has
been particularly challenging – not least due to the proliferation of donors and aid approaches, and the
complexity of the aid architecture(IDEA 2011).
Progress is being made in implementing the Paris principles in the health sector, particularly in
strengthening country ownership, coordination, use of common arrangements, dialogue and information
sharing between donors and countries. Examples include the increased focus on strengthening policy
dialogue around national health policies, strategies and plans as supported by the International Health
Partnership+ (IHP+) and the IHP+ Results monitoring function which reports donor and country progress
against adapted Paris indicators.
The health sector has also seen an increase in Global Health Initiatives (GHI) since the early 2000s. There
‘has been a proliferation in GHIs, which tend to focus on a single disease or group of diseases. Some of the
more prominent GHIs include the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the GAVI Alliance in
support of childhood vaccination and the Stop TB Partnership (Acharya and Martinez Alvarez 2012). While
both vertical funds (GAVI and Global Fund) have reported significant results, they have also been seen as
contributing to the fragmentation of the sector leading to unnecessary duplication of infrastructure, and
under-resourced health ministries are faced with increased administrative burdens among other
In response to this and other challenges, the sector agreed to form the IHP+ in 2007 to translate the Paris
Principles into practice in the health sector, and supports a single country-led health strategy. Both the
Global Fund and the GAVI Alliance are signatories to IHP+. Together with the WHO and the World Bank,
they have created the Health Systems Funding Platform, which puts IHP+ principles into action by raising
and coordinating funds for health system strengthening, mostly those of the Global Fund and the GAVI
Alliance, and disbursing them based on a single national health plan, fiduciary arrangement and monitoring
and evaluation framework. It has provided assistance in the form of budget support and technical
assistance in a limited number of pilot countries, but there is still a lack of stringent evaluations to assess its
impact at the country level(OECD 2011).
An OECD report on aid effectiveness in the health sector provides some significant insights into the learning
the sector is having. Among others these include the acknowledgement that ‘effective aid creates
conditions for success’ as there is evidence that aid effectiveness improves sector planning, budgeting and
governance capacities, strengthens national systems and contributes to health results … (OECD 2012) This
happens through more efficient and sustainable implementation of national health policies, plans and
strategies. The challenges the sector is grappling with include how to strike the balance and maximize
complementarities between programmes that deliver short-term measurable results though often at the
expense of aid effectiveness and longer term transformational change and more sustainable whole-ofsector approaches that focus on greater alignment, institutions and priorities but are more challenging to
measure (OECD 2012).
Complexities and Similarities of aid challenges facing health and water
The OECD highlights a number of factors that hinder progress in the sector. These include; the complexity
of aid architecture which is now made worse by the rising numbers of new donors some of whom are not
necessarily in tandem with the agreed principles; lack of donor alignment with country priorities and
systems, poor donor harmonization and difficulty in maintaining momentum once mechanisms are in place.
Predictability of aid is also still a challenge as ‘most donors are unable to give realistic commitments much
more than 12 months ahead’. Differences between commitments and disbursements are still prevalent and
political considerations significantly influence implementation of commitments. The health sector also has
lags between domestic commitments such as the Abuja commitment to spend 15% of the national budget
on health and the action. Only 4 countries were able to meet the Abuja commitment by 2010 (ONE 2012),
this however is much better when compared with performance towards eThekwini declaration where
countries committed to spend at least 0.5% of GDP on sanitation alone. Many of the challenges in the
health sector also go beyond the mandate of the health ministries.
These challenges are also common in the water sector especially in countries that are transitioning from
relief or post conflict contexts to long term development. The Liberia case study has shown that there is
still a lot of concentration on increasing access almost exclusively with very little focus on institutions and
systems building. The difference with the health sector is that, it is easy to deal with the whole-of-sector
core systems which are often positioned in the ministry of health whereas in the water and sanitation
sector, the fragmentation of institutions enslaves each sub-sector to a parent ministry that is often already
preoccupied with other core issues. However the OECD (2012) assessment still highlighted the challenges
the sector faces that originate from out-sector activities and call attention to a focus on the political
economy and wider government reforms. How to make the WASH sector components that are resident in
other ministries benefit from the core-institutional changes in those ministries is where the challenge is for
the WASH sector.
The health sector also deals with a lot of donors from a range of bilateral, multilateral and private donors.
While this diversity brings many benefits, it can also be particularly challenging for country ownership,
alignment and national systems and can lead to duplication and fragmentation at both global and national
level. Ensuring that there is a link between global commitments and on-the-ground action therefore can be
a particularly critical challenge. This is crucial for the water sector where a partnership such as SWA can be
useful to increase focus onto the problem but its very nature promotes diversity in membership and yet aid
effectiveness at country level requires more coordination.
Sector specific compact to drive progress and bring attention to aid effectiveness
To deal with the challenges of coordination especially given the numerous vertical funds in the sector and
focus attention on systems governance and the broader health development goals, the sector agreed a
compact that was signed in 2007 by at least 60 representatives of government, donors and development
agencies. Among others, the compact outlined commitments for both country and international or donor
organizations. Notable among the commitments were 1) the acceptance of national health policies and
plans as the basis for providing funding 2) agreement on the use of shared processes to support national
plans including the agreement with governments on the sources and amounts of funding for the health
plan, 3) a commitment to contribute to funding national health plans that address the whole health system
–including public and non-state sectors and 4) to review policies and procedures at global level to enable
better coordinated and longer terms support at country level. The national governments also took specific
commitments that improve ownership, a commitment to update plans in an inclusive and participatory way
and the commitment to implement plans efficiently through stronger health and financial management
systems and to broadly be accountable to citizens. Such a compact went beyond the acceptance of the
Paris Principles but focused on sector specific challenges and raised the attention of all actors to common
challenges that could not be dealt with by a single country – whether recipient or donor –or a single
agency, whether multilateral or private.
Measuring aid effectiveness in the health sector
The IHP+ developed sector specific indicators which are linked to the Paris principles. A broad set of Results
Standard Performance Measures (see annex 2) have been developed and agreed across both donor and
recipient partners. Some of the targets are specific to the sector such as the need to have IHP+ partner
countries to have a compact or equivalent mutual agreement in place, the aim to increase the proportion
of public funding allocated to the health sector and the target to reduce by two-thirds the stock of parallel
project implementation units (PIUs).
The IHP+ also has separated measurements for countries (annex 3) and donors (annex 4). With such
indicators the sector is able to measure the performance of its members on key aspects of the plan that
may otherwise not be measured. For example the IHP+ measures ‘government’s performance in putting in
place Human Resources for Health Plans that are integrated with the national health plan. A key indicator
for this is embedded in the Standard Performance Measure and is focused on ‘costed and evidence based
HRH plan in place that is integrated with the national health plan’ (see table below).
Figure 1. An Example of IHP+ Standard Performance Measures showing Developing Country Performance
Source: IHP+ 2012
Similarly donor performance is also assessed on specific indicators that show performance per donor.
Donors are assessed on critical aspects such as ‘percent of aid flows to the health sector that is reported on
national health sector budgets’ or ‘percent of health sector aid provided as programme-based approaches’
(IHP+ 2012. See figure 2 for an example of an IHP+ evaluation of donor partners on the use of ‘single
national performance assessment framework where they exist, as the primary basis to assess progress (of
support to health sector)(IHP+ 2012).
Figure 2. IHP+ Example of Standard Performance Measure for Donors
Source: IHP+ 2012
The challenge with these measurements however is that they do not link specific donors with specific
countries. They provide an aggregate picture of each donor actions but fall short of specifying where the
particular donor is performing well or not. This is crucial especially as it important to account for such
distorting effects as aid targeting only countries where systems may already be in place which sometimes is
the motivation for aid to be spent in middle income countries. The aspect of targeting low-income and off
track countries still remains a crucial element or measuring.
3.3 Five Cross-Cutting Lessons from GPE and IHP+
THE RELEVANCE OF A COMPACT AT GLOBAL AND COUNTRY LEVEL:
Both health and education sectors have developed a global compact which priorities aid effectiveness and
further pushes for country level compacts, plans or the equivalent of such a plan. The two initiatives go
further than just requiring a plan by specifically requesting a sector specific agreement which show the
specific components that would be covered by the country and its development partners. This type of
agreement goes beyond aspirational plans for the country but becomes a measurable tool for reinforcing
mutual accountability at the country level; as such it provides a far stronger basis for accountability than
the language in SWA’s Guiding Principles
Linking vision and mission to aid principles:
The GPE and IHP+ initiatives have clearly linked development objectives to partnership principles and have
anchored both on aid effectiveness. The education sector for example, has four specific development
objectives and has recognised the need for structured development cooperation which has four policy and
collaboration pillars. These pillars are mutually reinforcing with the aid effectiveness principles. A clear
sectoral vision and agreement on sectoral targets have necessitated a discussion of the common goals and
ways-working to achieve the goals.
PRACTICAL MECHANISMS THAT IMPROVE TARGETING
Both the education and health sectors incorporate ways of improving targeting of resources at critical areas
that are lagging behind. Whether this is through disease specific vertical funds or through the overall GPE
Fund in education, both sectors seem to have found at least a way of increasing focus at sector issues or
countries that lag behind. One of the strategic goals of the GPE for example stipulates that ‘resources are
focussed on the most marginalised children and those in fragile and conflict-affected states’(GPE 2012). By
supporting the 6 Education for All goals, the GPE intrinsically is focussed on challenges facing low-income
countries or specific education challenges that are common among less privileged. Given that the eligibility
for a country to access funding is based on these objectives and the strategic steer, the GPE Fund is in many
ways a deliberate attempt to target resources at the areas of significant need. The various vertical funds in
health do the same. For the SWA, while tackling the problems of underserved or off-track countries is
implied in one of the five aims, ‘improve targeting and impact of resources for sustainable sanitation and
drinking water’ there are few or limited mechanisms through which resources can be deliberately targeted
at off-track countries. The GPE Fund requires that countries should have a plan among other needs and
once these are met, the country is eligible to funding. The health sector benefits from various vertical funds
focussing on disease or other health issues. For the sanitation and water sector, this type of targeting is still
left to donors and other members of the partnership. Given the geo-political, economic and historical
motivation of aid, it is not difficult to see the concerns arising from countries such as Liberia regarding the
inadequacy of support even after plans and policies are in place.
HAVING SECTOR SPECIFIC MEASURABLE MILESTONES OR INDICATORS:
By far the clearest and biggest achievement has been the sectors ability to define sector specific standards
(such as in IHP+), indicators and targets. While the education sector focusses a lot on the Paris declaration
targets, the IHP+ went ahead to be more ambitious in some of its targets and further disaggregated
Standard Performance Measures that are applicable to donors and those that are applicable to recipient
countries. In the sanitation and water sector further in-depth scoping on this issue is currently being carried
out by WaterAid, in order to begin to address the need for a framework which identifies and monitors
sector specific metrics for aid effectiveness.
Assessing performance among partnership members with those which are outside:
The indicators and performance measurement standards, and targets have enabled both the GPE and the
IHP+ to measure performance across their partner countries. Consequently they are also able to determine
how their partnership countries are performing when compared with non-partnership countries. While
there are still attribution questions, the evidence seems compelling on the role of such a common
framework for action in accelerating speed and in bringing convergence of actions in member countries.
4 What can the WASH sector do with the lessons from within and out-ofsector?
The lessons from the WASH sector in Liberia and Niger as well as those from the education and health
sector partnerships can help to create discussion and reflection on performance and accountability towards
already agreed aid effectiveness principles. Discussions on how the sector players mutually accounts to
each other on these principles are significant but if they are not supported by specific and measurable
standards or milestones they are likely to remain abstract. Having a common frame from which to engage
and mutually account is critical and this at least is what seems to be drawn from the education and health
partnerships. This paper provides preliminary ideas on key elements that show a progression towards more
effective aid but does not in any way suggest that this is the final step in finding ways to deal with aid
effectiveness; there is a key role for SWA to play in taking this forward, building on the existing work of
partners such as WSP, DFID and WaterAid. Table 3 is used as a precursor into this idea, providing the key
elements of the various scenarios that exist and compared with characteristics of a ‘desired’ state of better
aid effectiveness. In a way, the ‘desired’ state can be considered as containing elements of the ideal
Table 2: Aid Effectiveness Milestones
Less desired but
often status quo
Projects feeding into
One plan with various
programs e.g. a SWAp
Reforms and Capacity (SIRC)
reforms and capacity
SIC goals being
capacity is increasing.
Delivering with and
Strong institutions able to
design, roll-out plans,
provide oversight and report
(financial and operational
Delivery by government
Discussions and plans
for a harmonization
Presence of a common
sector target but no
common reporting or
exists and is implemented
Common sector targets
review but no
Common sector targets
review and aggregated
reporting. Joint Sector
4.1 STRATEGIC VISIONING AND PLANNING
Strategic visioning and planning is the centre of the aid effectiveness ripple. Strong plans that are clear on
sector targets, leadership, institutions and the role of both national and development resources show the
extent to which ownership is entrenched. But ownership is not only measured by the presence of these
documents and policies, it is also measured on the basis of how strong the institutions are to deliver and
self-renew. Other elements such as alignment, harmonization etc form the outer rings of this ripple but
which one comes first or last is not really important. The spectrum of visioning and planning in the matrix
above shows the less desired characteristics which would include the lack of no vision and plan at all to an
existence of separate and uncoordinated plans. A different scenario which is transitional but nonetheless
problematic is one where there are numerous projects being implemented by a number of actors without
an overarching sector or national strategy. This is often the case in post conflict or fragile environment
where national and sector planning potential is weak. The desired environment is one where the sector has
a plan. Both the education and health sector also posit very strongly the need for one sector plan. They go
ahead to support this with either a country compact or country level joint agreement on what roles would
be played by government and donors in the delivery of the plan. Such a compact in the WASH sector was
developed in Liberia even though it fell short of specific donor commitments. It would be imperative to
borrow the lessons from the education sector that require that education plans should spell out aid
effectiveness principles and ensure that the monitoring and evaluation framework is equally inclusive of
With regards to funding, there are at least two critical things that funding can do. Firstly, it is to support
other constituents of a good sector such as the development of plan, establishment of institutions, capacity
development and actual service delivery among others. Other forms of aid such as technical assistance can
also help achieve the same objectives but highlighting the various elements planning and delivery that
needs to be supported is important given the sector reality where aid tends to focus on one part of the
spectrum. The second element is how funding is delivered. There are at least 7 options through which
external aid can align with government systems. These include, aid being on budget, on report, on audit, on
plan, on parliament (or through the budget), on treasury and on accounting (see table 4).
Table 3. Aligning external aid with government systems
Source: GPE 2012
While these levels can provide a pathway to better alignment, there achievement can depend on the
progress of national reforms and core systems for public finance management and reporting. Others such
as putting aid on the national plan, national budget, and parliament and sector/national report would not
be difficult if the Ministries of Finance required such information. To a significant extent, this is the
situation in Liberia.
4.3 SYSTEMS STRENGTHENING
Systems and institutions are the backbone for planning, services delivery, monitoring and evaluations.
Ensuring that aid goes towards build and strengthening systems and institutions is crucial not only for
current quality of delivery but for sustainability as well. The health sector as well as education sector
focuses on this as a critical criteria for aid delivery. The case of Liberia and Niger has also shown that when
aid focusses only on services, systems tend to suffer. The need to ensure that sector systems are linked and
networked to core-country systems is equally important and this calls for deeper collaboration between
sector donors and those that are focussing at macro level systems.
4.4 OPERATIONAL DELIVERY
Operational delivery here is used to imply the management of aid especially with regards the functions
performed by such units as Project Implementation Units. Instead of having separate, stand-alone project
implementation units which counter balance the impact of capacity on government and create more
transaction and administrative costs, the ideal would be to migrate to a system operated by government.
Donors also should maximise their harmonisation strategies by first selecting and developing common
frameworks for reporting and disbursements. Joint donor missions and using the same sector analysis and
reports helps reduce the administrative burden on aid recipients. Thus moving from fragmented
operational delivery by donors to one that is coordinated and a harmonised operational delivery for donors
is just as critical as ensuring that aid delivery mechanisms such as project implementation units are
synchronised into government operations.
4.5 RESULTS AND ACCOUNTABILITY
Focussing on results adds onto critical aspects that already push for ownership, alignment, harmonisation
and mutual accountability. The imperative here is to ensure that elements of the results to be monitored
are commonly agreed and acted upon. This should include reporting to donors and national citizens. The
progression from an environment of no reporting to periodic Joint Sector Reviews is critical and the sector
is already on the path to achieving this in some countries (Liberia and Niger are both doing this). However
making this as part of the sector culture and DNA takes time and careful planning. Agreeing on what should
be reported and who reports is just as critical as agreeing on when and how the reporting should be done.
The matrix therefore suggests a progression towards a common sector targets, reviews and aggregated
reporting which can happen in the context of the Joint Sector Reviews.
This paper used lessons from case studies on aid effectiveness in the water and sanitation sector,
particularly in Liberia and Niger and also drew several insights from the health and education sector. The
case studies from Niger and Liberia show an emerging trend where both the government and donors are
increasing their engagement on aid effectiveness but the pace and comprehensiveness of reforms could be
agile and holistic. While noting the improvements in ownership and some key aspects of mutual
accountability such as joint sector reviews, both countries face significant challenges regarding use of
country systems, mobilization of resources for capacity and institutional development and projections for
post-2015 funding remains weak. Donors are working together in support of national plans and in broad
discussions that relate to aid effectiveness but harmonization and use of country systems is weak at best.
Actions to improve aid effectiveness will need to continue at country level but lessons from the education
and health partnerships continuously point to the impetus provided by an overarching partnership driven
process which incorporates aid effectiveness standards, milestones or indicators. A review of the Global
Partnership for Education and the IHP+ has shown critical strategic visioning on what the sectors intended
to achieve with significant focus on aid effectiveness. They both have integrated Paris Principles Aid
effectiveness indicators and further included their own sectoral targets or standards of performance. While
these have not fully transformed the education and health sector, they have at least provided a common
framework which responds to the specific needs of the sector on aid effectiveness. This is useful for
strengthening mutual accountability and helping to ensure that the sector as a whole is in agreement when
it comes to how aid effectiveness is internalized.
This paper has drawn lessons from both out-of-sector aid effectiveness partnerships and in-sector lessons.
There is indeed a lot that can be done in the WASH sector to gain common ground and help improve
impetus towards achieving the already agreed aid effectiveness principles. Some of the critical areas where
this may happen include but are not limited to the area of strategic vision and planning, funding modalities,
accountability and results. On each of these, the paper has provided a matrix of what seems to be less
desired conditions such as funding not being on plan to funding being on plan and on budget. Moving from
one of these to the other will require several supportive systems without which the holistic benefits could
In a number of low income countries, the sector is predominantly financed by aid. In Liberia and Niger, aid
accounts for well over 70% of sector financing. Such high levels of persistent aid dependence for the sector
should create the impetus for efforts to improve aid delivery and ensure that aid has a multiplier effect.
Using the commonly agreed Paris Principles which are also supported by the Accra Agenda for Action as a
framework for analysis, critical lessons were drawn from Liberia and Niger. A review of aid effectiveness in
education and the health sector was also included to provide a perspective of how other sectors are
dealing with the aid effectiveness principles.
In Niger and Liberia, there is a lot that should be done to ensure that aid practices are moving faster
towards achieving the expectations of aid principles signed onto by both donors and governments. While
both countries have sector plans and perform better on ownership, alignment, and harmonisation are still
far from being reached. There are numerous processes that seek to strengthen service delivery but the
proliferation of project approach remains a critical hindrance to effective program management and
The health and education sectors have also provided critical insights. The work of the GPE and the IHP+
have provided specific sector lessons on how they are each internalising aid effectiveness principles. Both
sectors have agreed a global compact or charter that sets out the country and donor commitment to aid
effectiveness principles. The two sectors have also gone ahead to agree sector specific indicators that build
on already existing Paris indicators. For the health sector, the Standard Practice Measures provide a robust
framework through which both countries and donor performance is measured. Accountability is thus
strengthened and performance can be measured on a number of the indicators.
The water sector is therefore confronted with some critical decisions at country and global level if it is to
make aid more effective. Starting from the point of view of improving actions and practice on already
agreed principles can provide the necessary benchmark and ensuring that there is measurable progress
towards overall effectiveness is even more crucial.
6 Recommendations: What can the SWA do?
Strengthen Knowledge and dialogue on aid effectiveness:
The SWA principle seven clearly supports aid effectiveness. This needs to be pursued in more detail
through strengthening dialogue on what aid effectiveness means for the water and sanitation sector.
Having aid effectiveness in partnership dialogues and beyond is crucial but ensuring that there are
significant ways in which this dialogue informs and influences action on the ground is even more significant.
The SWA can therefore engage in action-seeking and results oriented dialogue.
Develop common practice and performance measures for aid effectiveness
Lessons from the Health and education sector show that a common framework which internalizes aid
principles and elaborates aspects that are peculiar to the sector provides more clarity on how to progress
towards adherence to aid principles. The WASH sector can build on already existing commitments to the
SWA principles and particularly principle number 7 and agree measurable indicators for better
performance in the sector. This can follow the example of the IHP+ which has Standard Performance
Measures or simply an adoption of the Paris Indicators ‘plus’ (P+) which would be built on OECD indicators
with WASH specific measures. The most important aspect seems to be that indicators or practice and
performance measures should be comparable and feed into the broadly agreed and already accepted
principles. For example, most sector specific indicators such as for education, health and infrastructure do
not include the role of donors in supporting countries to develop national or sector specific plans when in
fact this kind of support is very important as both the case of Liberia and Niger show that donors played a
critical role in facilitating the development of such plans. Monitoring and Evaluation of several aspects of
performance and practice components is therefore critical.
Strengthen Aid effectiveness Reporting
The SWA can be a useful platform for strengthening mutual accountability on aid effectiveness. Already the
GLAAS report seeks to strengthen understanding on financing for the sector. The SWA either through
GLAAS or the progress report could provide complementary information and a sector-wide report on aid
effectiveness for the sector focusing on understanding the practices and behavior of government and
donor partners. This report is likely to have more strength if it measures performance against the agreed
practice and performance measures for the sector. An independent report focusing on performance and
practice would be useful given the urgent need for improving action and the apparent lack of a process that
is capturing trends in aid effectiveness in the sector. The sector report can help with 1) providing a
framework for country level discussions on aid effectiveness; 2) provide a global data set for discussions on
aid effectiveness delivery and 3) allow for benchmarking and improving specific sector aspects that may be
particularly challenging across the principles. This should also move the discussion beyond how much aid is
provided to how it is provided and delivered to turn plans into services.
Be a strong platform for Mutual Accountability and innovation
A concern emerging from Liberia and Niger is how to foster more investments after plans have been
developed. Given that the SWA has commitments made by both donors and countries, it is imperative to
seek ways for improving links between country and global actors’ commitments. The SWA can be a useful
platform for improving targeting of aid but so far current mechanisms are far from guaranteeing that
resources will be targeted at countries that need them the most. This poses a selectivity question which is
not easy to deal with but a closer study of mechanisms in education and health can help. This study shows
that in education and health there are specific funds granted on specific terms for eligibility. Most of the
eligibility criteria are focused on enabling countries with low coverage to have access resources contingent
on a locally agreed plan. The health sector ‘disease focused’ vertical funds also seem to have a deliberate
targeting criterion by the very fact that the diseases selected are predominantly those that beset the
developing region. While this field is not very developed, the WASH sector can invest in finding better ways
of improving targeting of resources to ensure that donor and developing country commitments are in
tandem and that resources do indeed target the areas of highest need. Subsequently, it will be easy to have
global reports on performance of countries where members of the SWA are working together to achieve
country level targets. This can be through reports that compare aid effectiveness performance in SWA and
non SWA countries. The GPE for example shows progress in GPE countries as compared to non-GPE
countries or other countries surveyed by the OECD. The other ways of improving mutual accountability is
through the inclusion of aid effectiveness targets in country plans or compacts. These can specifically focus
on commitments on the part of donors to harmonise and commitments on the part of the national
government to strengthen core systems, improve absorption capacity and resolve other institutional or
coordination bottlenecks. Joint sector reviews which are common in the sector can help to provide periodic
reviews for improving overall performance.
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