Mekong Partners Join Forces to Improve Water Supply and Sanitation

By mid-2007, SAWAP has organized consultative meetings in Cambodia, Lao PDR and Vietnam and a joint inter-country planning meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. These have been significant in helping identify demand, further informing WSP’s support work planning for FY08 and beyond.  The meetings have also resulted in the establishment of SAWAP Core Teams in each country, representing key stakeholder groups, and agreement on a partner-led coordination mechanism for SAWAP.  The partnership has also begun to engage and draw in Yunnan Province of China, with the neighboring Chinese Province of Guangxi likely to follow in a few months time.  

Together these countries and provinces amount to around 190m people – a large proportion of whom are still in urgent need of improved sanitation and water services.  Access to adequate sanitation in the three countries averaged just 36% in 2004, with access to improved water supply standing at 59%.  The Mekong sub-region is therefore increasingly becoming a focus area for WSP-EAP support, with SAWAP a significant mechanism for delivering programs.  

In essence, SAWAP is a demand-responsive, multi-country technical assistance program supported by WSP-EAP.  Initial bilateral funding support to SAWAP comes from Sida, channeled through WSP-EAP's regional budgets via a new Multi-Donor Trust Fund. Other bilateral donors are growing interested in joining, which further supports SAWAP's vision of expanding their network.  Most importantly, SAWAP promotes locally-initiated innovation, based on strong and multi-dimensional, multi-level partnerships.  It focuses on the Countries and Provinces linked symbolically by the Mekong and in many other ways, each of which face pressing sanitation and water needs of one sort or another, and often with common factors at work.  

In addition to linked country-level work, which is increasingly financed by SAWAP, the three initial WSP focus countries have agreed on six specific SAWAP-supported cross-boundary projects.  These comprise: 1) rural household water quality improvement 2) support to improving the knowledge research and application cycle 3) communications for reform 4) development of a sustainable management model on rural sanitation 5) mobilizing the domestic private sector for water supply and sanitation and 6) development of sustainable management models for urban sanitation (including small towns). These projects reflect SAWAP’s two parallel activity clusters, namely identifying and scaling up sustainable solutions and mobilizing resources to achieve the MDGs. Yunnan Province of China is now also actively developing ideas for inputs to SAWAP and support needs, many with cross-boundary interest. These will largely focus on environmental/ water resources/ sanitation links, a major concern in the province.

In May 2007, the partnership completed its first phase of consultation workshops and field visits by organizing a start up meeting in Yunnan Province of China, attended by Yunnan Environmental Protection Bureau’s International Cooperation Department, Yunnan Provincial Bureau of Health, Yunnan Academy of Science, Yunnan Private Sector Association, The Nature Conservancy’s Wetland Program, Vietnam’s Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Partnership Coordinator, the Cambodian Ministry of Rural Development’s Department of Rural Health Care, Lao PDR’s Urban Research Institute - Ministry of Communications, Transport, Post and Construction and WSP-EAP.  Beginning July 2007, FY08 will see an increasingly intensive phase of expanding WSP support work to country-led SAWAP initiatives in Cambodia, Lao PDR and Vietnam, initiation of new support activities in Yunnan and Guangxi Provinces of China, and a growing number and scale of cross-boundary and subregion-wide SAWAP contributions.

Contact Name: 
Yosa Yuliarsa
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