Delivering Water Supply and Sanitation (WSS) Services in Fragile States

Image Map

Hover mousekey over countries to view results

Fragile and post-conflict states are at the greatest risk of not meeting the MDGs. Conflicts, economic crises and natural disasters not only leave infrastructure damaged but often result in a capacity conundrum with governments too weak to meet basic service-delivery standards or donor accountability requirements. As a result, donors either channel funding to humanitarian agencies or set up parallel systems of accountability. While this works in emergency situations, it prevents country-led programs from developing sustainable service delivery models. Poverty is increasingly concentrated within fragile states, while service delivery for water and sanitation struggles to keep pace with rapid population growth.

WSP is addressing this need, collaborating with Sanitation and Water for All partners to prioritize water and sanitation services, promote evidence-based decision making and support strong national processes. WSP’s work in fragile and conflict-affected states focuses on supporting the sector in transitioning from ad hoc emergency interventions to long-term country-led development programs.

The Approach

In WSP’s current approach in fragile states, five areas of intervention are necessary to support the transition from emergency to development. These are not a linear sequence of steps.

Rather, they are complementary and interdependent intervention areas that come in and out of focus depending on context and what other actors are doing in the sector.

Generate planning data to re-establish country leadership – In post-conflict or post-crisis situations, governments need data to regain the coordination role and to orchestrate service delivery by the many non-state actors present since the crisis started.

Leadership exposure to WASH service modelsIsolation during conflict means senior officials in these countries lack first-hand understanding of current good practice.

Facilitate adaptation of service delivery models to country context – Trying to import existing models directly into fragile statesis unlikely to work, given low human resource capacity, poorpublic finance management systems and political economyissues.

Monitor and evaluate service delivery models, promoting models that work – With no over-arching government program forWASH, there are multiple models and government pilots,all of which have vested interests in their continuation.

Building and refining investment channels – Most fragile states do not have the systems, processes or absorption capacity to channel budget support. At the same time most existing channels of support – mainly through non-state actors – undermine the government’s ability to build capacity.

NEW Report: Beitbridge Emergency Water Supply and Sanitation Project

Following a decade of economic crisis and corresponding deterioration of water supply and sanitation services, Zimbabwe was struck by a major cholera epidemic in 2008. One of the most severely affected cities was Beitbridge, Zimbabwe’s main border crossing into South Africa. To guard against future outbreaks in this sensitive location, the World Bank’s State and Peace Building Fund financed the Beitbridge Emergency Water and Sanitation Project with US$2.65 million in 2010–12.
The objective of this Impact Assessment Report is to review whether key service improvements have been sustained one year after the project’s conclusion, and whether these have affected citizen confidence in the Beitbridge Town Council (BTC) and the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA). Confidence in shared institutions is crucial to maintain peaceful social relations and is thus of particular interest in a fragile state such as Zimbabwe. 


Report: Delivering Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene in Fragile and Conflicted Affected States

During this year an internal review of WSP’s work in fragile states was conducted. This was done with the active participation of a cross-section of WSP’s government clients, internal clients, such as World Bank country managers, as well as technical and financing partners. The review was explicitly structured as a participatory learning review. The innovative format was of great value, and enabled participants to share in-depth lessons and comment on WSP’s future direction in this area. The reviewers concluded that the business area plays a vital role in establishing entry points for the program in fragile states, as well as building the credibility of WSP’s technical assistance. 

Delivering Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene in Fragile and Conflicted Affected States - Learning Review of WSP's Technical Assistance program