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Community-focussed partnerships : unpacking sustainability

Emerging lessons learned from a 3-year project carried out by WaterAid, in Singida, an urban district in Tanzania. The project aims to test some new ideas, on both partnerships and on scaling up, by working with the local government, local NGOs and local private sector to bring water and sanitation services to nineteen periurban communities. The key themes based on the mid-term review of the project are: decentralisation, delegated service delivery, demand responsive approaches and the role of external support. The lessons learned are ordered by these themes.

Decentralisation:
- With decentralisation peri-urban communities often become the responsibility of urban water and sanitation authorities. These authorities are typically ill-equipped to meet their needs and thus the communities risk falling into a service vacuum.
- The creation of autonomous urban water providers often leaves local government without staff dedicated to water issues. Should health departments take the lead in delivering integrated water and sanitation services to peri-urban communities?

Delegated service delivery:
- Partnership may have some advantages over contracting approaches but in Tanzania time will be required to see if these are borne out over the long term
-The ability to 'build on assets' may be constrained by a lack of local capacity, while it is difficult to delegate when local NGOs or the private sector are very weak.
- While NGOs may be skilled at community engagement, even local NGOs may not have strong links to all communities in a region. Therefore both partnership and contracting approaches that engage communities may be less effective at leveraging local government capacity than policy-makers hope.
- An inclusive approach that builds on local assets has significant advantages but may clash with national procurement guidelines or be open to abuse when applied at a larger scale.

Demand responsive approach:
- Strict application of national minimum service levels may undermine demand responsive approaches once high levels of coverage are being reached. This may in turn impair sustainability.
- It may be difficult to follow a demand responsive approach to sanitation. This will put strains on partnerships for integrated service delivery.
- Partnerships for sanitation may look very different (and need to evolve differently) than partnerships for water services. Integrating the two may be difficult or occasionally inappropriate.
- Instituting mechanisms whereby communities can hold service providers accountable is important. Communityfocussed partnerships especially need to evolve, building capacity and structures that ensure communities become a more robust partner over time.

Role of external support:
- Plan for evolution. External partners need to plan exit strategies carefully and include clear monitoring, milestones and triggers. Capacity building should be accompanied by a gradual handing over of responsibility.
- Creating special partnership structures within local government to co-ordinate and manage delivery may provide short-term gains, but care must be taken that these are locally `owned¿ and functions mainstreamed within existing structures to ensure long-term institutional stability.
- Roles and responsibilities should not be conflated. External support allows roles to differ from on-paper responsibilities in the medium term but over time these are likely to revert closer to these 'written' responsibilities.
- Moreover, while partnership may be a useful tool for implementation it may not be necessary once sustainability is the key issue. If the partnership is to continue then partners must review future roles and responsibilities in advance and discuss how to enable the transition.

TitleCommunity-focussed partnerships : unpacking sustainability
Publication TypeMiscellaneous
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsJones, D.
Secondary TitleOccasional paper series / BPD Water and Sanitation
Pagination8 p.
Date Published2004-07-01
PublisherBusiness Partners for Development (BPD) Water and Sanitation Cluster
Place PublishedLondon, UK
Keywordscontracts, demand responsive approaches, government organizations, non-governmental organizations, partnerships, peri-urban communities, private sector, replicability, sanitation, sdipol, tanzania singida, water supply
Abstract

Emerging lessons learned from a 3-year project carried out by WaterAid, in Singida, an urban district in Tanzania. The project aims to test some new ideas, on both partnerships and on scaling up, by working with the local government, local NGOs and local private sector to bring water and sanitation services to nineteen periurban communities. The key themes based on the mid-term review of the project are: decentralisation, delegated service delivery, demand responsive approaches and the role of external support. The lessons learned are ordered by these themes.

Decentralisation:
- With decentralisation peri-urban communities often become the responsibility of urban water and sanitation authorities. These authorities are typically ill-equipped to meet their needs and thus the communities risk falling into a service vacuum.
- The creation of autonomous urban water providers often leaves local government without staff dedicated to water issues. Should health departments take the lead in delivering integrated water and sanitation services to peri-urban communities?

Delegated service delivery:
- Partnership may have some advantages over contracting approaches but in Tanzania time will be required to see if these are borne out over the long term
-The ability to 'build on assets' may be constrained by a lack of local capacity, while it is difficult to delegate when local NGOs or the private sector are very weak.
- While NGOs may be skilled at community engagement, even local NGOs may not have strong links to all communities in a region. Therefore both partnership and contracting approaches that engage communities may be less effective at leveraging local government capacity than policy-makers hope.
- An inclusive approach that builds on local assets has significant advantages but may clash with national procurement guidelines or be open to abuse when applied at a larger scale.

Demand responsive approach:
- Strict application of national minimum service levels may undermine demand responsive approaches once high levels of coverage are being reached. This may in turn impair sustainability.
- It may be difficult to follow a demand responsive approach to sanitation. This will put strains on partnerships for integrated service delivery.
- Partnerships for sanitation may look very different (and need to evolve differently) than partnerships for water services. Integrating the two may be difficult or occasionally inappropriate.
- Instituting mechanisms whereby communities can hold service providers accountable is important. Communityfocussed partnerships especially need to evolve, building capacity and structures that ensure communities become a more robust partner over time.

Role of external support:
- Plan for evolution. External partners need to plan exit strategies carefully and include clear monitoring, milestones and triggers. Capacity building should be accompanied by a gradual handing over of responsibility.
- Creating special partnership structures within local government to co-ordinate and manage delivery may provide short-term gains, but care must be taken that these are locally `owned¿ and functions mainstreamed within existing structures to ensure long-term institutional stability.
- Roles and responsibilities should not be conflated. External support allows roles to differ from on-paper responsibilities in the medium term but over time these are likely to revert closer to these 'written' responsibilities.
- Moreover, while partnership may be a useful tool for implementation it may not be necessary once sustainability is the key issue. If the partnership is to continue then partners must review future roles and responsibilities in advance and discuss how to enable the transition.

Notes6 ref.
Custom 1202.2, 822

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