This short report was published in April 2004 for the Commission for Sustainable Development (CSD) Conference. The CSD is the UN department responsible for following up commitments made at the 1992 Earth Summit and at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development. Session 12, in April 2004, will focus on water, sanitation and human settlement. This session is crucial as it is the first time that officials have met since the World Summit to assess the progress being made towards the United Nations development goals and to consider what new action is required for governments to meet their commitments. If CSD does not get it right now, not only could governments miss the 2015 Millennium Development goals, they could undo gains made towards better water management to reduce poverty, and for sustainable development.
The WaterAid report `More for some, none for others` is the first briefing paper coming out of the second year of PRSP (Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper) research in sub-Saharan Africa which sought to understand why the poorest people were still lacking access to clean water and sanitation. The research took place in Zambia, Malawi, Uganda and Tanzania in collaboration with the research institute ODI (funded by the Department for International Development) and was a follow on, with more detailed analysis, of earlier PRSP research (national planning and budgeting frameworks) wherein water and sanitation has a low priority. Some of the main research findings have brought out both equity and sustainability issues in addition to raising considerable questions around financing flows.
The research tells us that national and international decision-makers fail to direct investment in the water sector to the poorer sections of society; they fail to recognise the importance of the sustainability of water and sanitation services and do not provide leadership for longer-term solutions, and they fail to make decisions about financing and planning open and make performance monitoring stronger and accessible to public scrutiny.
As a remedy to some of these findings and as a focus to working towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals for water and sanitation, WaterAid makes recommendations to improve the performance from the sector in three key areas: performance monitoring to ensure that investment is focused on equity and sustainability; donor coherence and positive support to national budgeting and planning; and significant increases in transparency and accountability by governments, donors and other sector actors.