To the extent water aspects of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) are currently weak, the design of water interventions, and the performance of the sector in terms of delivery, needs to be strengthened accordingly. The water sector also needs to integrate better within broader financing processes, to make its case for more resources. PRSPs are important "platforms for financing" of national action on poverty, but also form part of the broader context of national budgeting and public expenditure management. The processes and decisions which determine the proportion of public funds allocated to different sectoral interests are crucial, especially for the water sector in sub-Saharan Africa where relatively modest private sector funding for water supply and sanitation (WSS) is available. The application of HIPC and related funds towards the declared means and ends of poverty reduction represents a major example of the challenge of shaping government budgeting and spending to further social goals, including targeting particular groups within society. The allocation of resources to different institutions and purposes is political, as well as technical, so national budgeting processes need to be reviewed in that light, including the degree of convergence between PRSPs and national development planning/budgeting. The water sector provides an important example of the challenges surrounding delivery and ongoing development of PRSPs.
This research project is a collaboration between three international organisations: the Overseas Development Institute-ODI, the Water and Sanitation Programme-Africa, and WaterAid, as well as their African partners. It is supported by the UK Department for International Development-DFID. The project follows a preliminary stage of research carried out in March-June 2002, also with DFID support. This further phase of research is designed to throw light on factors and processes behind the poor integration of the WSS sector in PRSPs. Focusing on selected sub-Saharan African countries - Malawi, Zambia and Uganda - the research will seek to make recommendations as to how the design, financing and delivery of WSS programmes within PRSPs may be improved. The following are outlines of the scope/focus of the three country studies:
WSS Design and Delivery: assessment of resource allocation and targeting in the water sector, to determine the extent to which water investment is appropriately prioritised within current district and national-level planning processes, according to three criteria: equity, sustainability and poverty impact; analysis of factors affecting resource allocation in two districts.
WSS Finance and Delivery: sector resource requirements, flows and volumes, allocations, distribution and utilisation; the processes and mechanisms, operating both within the sector and across government, for determination and allocation of resources to WSS, including comparison of resource allocation decisions with resource requirements.
WSS Design and Delivery: translating national WSS sector and PRSP ("PEAP") objectives into equitable and sustainable local services for poverty reduction: review of current WSS planning, intervention and monitoring in two rural districts.
Links are being made to similar work in other countries, e.g. Tanzania through the participation of WaterAid Tanzania, and Ethiopia, Kenya and South Africa through studies commissioned by WSP-Africa.
Senior Research Associate