Working Effectively in Fragile and Conflict-Affected States: DRC and Rwanda - International Development Committee Contents

Written evidence from WaterAid

WaterAid is an international NGO working in Rwanda but not in DRC or Burundi. This response draws on WaterAid's experience of working in Rwanda as well as other fragile and post-conflict states such as Liberia and Sierra Leone.

WaterAid believes that ensuring the provision of basic services—health, education, water and sanitation—is self-evidently a public good but also underpins the legitimacy and stability of nation states.

We have focussed on our response on the first two broad questions of the enquiry rather than the last few questions on our assessment of DFID's current programmes in fragile states.

The key development priorities DFID and other Government Departments should be addressing in fragile and conflict-affected states

People in conflict affected countries are twice as likely to be undernourished or without safe access to water than those in stable countries.[63] Diarrhoea is now the biggest killer of children in sub-Saharan Africa. Improvements in water, sanitation and hygiene form an essential first step in human development and overcoming poverty. Access to sanitation and water cannot be separated from progress on other economic and human development issues. Without access to sanitation and water, poor health and frequent illness lead to lower productivity and lower income; sanitation and water are drivers of development as well as outcomes of it. It is women and girls that bear the greatest burden of water and sanitation poverty either through heightened vulnerability to water and sanitation-related diseases or through water fetching labour that typically can take up two hours per day.

In order to deliver results in fragile states it is crucial that the most neglected and off-track areas of development are acted upon; including sanitation, which is now the most off-track MDG in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is therefore essential that DFID focuses its investment in fragile states within the water and sanitation sector.

The most effective mechanisms for delivering aid, and the role of DFID's focus on results in fragile and conflict affected states

The available evidence[64] has shown that the greatest progress in improving water and sanitation access has been achieved by countries where:

—  (a)  the water sector has carried out sector reforms and capacity building within its sector institutions; and

—  (b)  aid modalities have supported the development of country-led programs in which a reformed sector has been embedded in core country systems.

For fragile and post conflict states the challenge to achieving these two steps lies in breaking a vicious circle, where government institutions are too weak to deliver leaving donors to channel funding via NGOs and humanitarian agencies, or through propped up units within ministries. Whilst these strategies help in delivering the immediate objectives these practices risk becoming entrenched continuing well into the post-reconstruction and rehabilitation period and weakening the development of country-led systems.

Four strategies have been identified[65] that are consistent with building longer term sector performance in fragile states and post-conflict:

—  (a)  build on the strengths of fragile states—fragile states are not necessarily fragile in all areas and that there may be significant areas of strength to build on;

—  (b)  provide sector leadership with examples of the transition to development—from the various trajectories through which previously fragile states have strengthened their sectors' performance;

—  (c)  initiate an early dialogue between the line ministries responsible for Water and Sanitation Services and those ministries managing core country systems (finance, planning and local government); and

—  (d)  develop and use the aid modalities that promote the linkages between the Water and Sanitation Services sector and country systems and economy-wide capacity.

The UK Government is a leading partner in the Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) initiative, that is a global partnership between developing countries, donors, multi-lateral agencies, civil society and other development partners working together to achieve universal and sustainable access to sanitation and drinking water. The initiative has an immediate focus on achieving the Millennium Development Goals in the most off-track countries, which are in many cases fragile states. In these cases the SWA will strengthen national sanitation and drinking water planning, investments and accountability frameworks, that improve targeting and the impact of resources to the sector. At a global level SWA supports effective decision making and strengthened country led systems by championing the principles of mutual accountability of governments and donors. An early SWA pilot in Liberia has embedded a Country Compact that sets out the domestic and international activities, roles and responsibilities for strengthening the sector and its "service delivery pathways". Rwanda is one of the partner countries in the SWA.

With the UK Government's commitment to Sanitation and Water for All and to increase the UK Government's ambition on sanitation and water, these sectors should be high on DFID's priorities when it comes to working in fragile states.

June 2011

63   World Bank Water and Sanitation Programme, report from workshop on delivering water supply and sanitation in fragile states, Nairobi, Kenya, 3-5 May 2011. And the Water and Sanitation Programmes Country Status Overviews 2011. Back

64   Country Status Overviews. Back

65   WSP Fragile States seminar-Nairobi, May 2011. Back

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Prepared 5 January 2012