It has been well documented that there is a significant shortfall of funding currently available to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6, sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. The World Bank estimates that the additional investment needed in WASH through 2030 will surpass US$1.7 trillion. The UN estimated that by 2020 to day, at least 35 international donors and partners should have been added to improve WASH services delivery towards the SDGs. Donor funding for WASH increased from US$6.3 billion to US$7.4 billion between 2012 and 2015. Even though the World continue to witness increased in funding for WASH, there are still gaps. When analyzing funding shortfalls, some national levels governments will need to increase their WASH sector investments up to six times over their current spending levels. To collectively work toward the achievement of the SDGs, the African Ministers responsible for sanitation and hygiene adopted the Ngor Declaration on Sanitation and Hygiene on May 27, 2015. Ngor Commitment 3 is to “Establish and track sanitation and hygiene budget lines that consistently increase annually to reach a minimum of 0.5% GDP by 2020.”
The African Ministers Council on Water (AMCOW) Secretariat is responsible for monitoring the Ngor Commitments through the AfricaSan International Taskforce in collaboration with partners. The Taskforce completed a baseline review of the monitoring in 2018, releasing the Baseline Report in 2019 and a Revised Baseline Report in February 2020. This report also confirms an annual $16 billion shortfall in funding in capital costs alone to reach SDG 6.2 by 2030. They have also found only 9 countries has enough information to report on the implementation progress for Commitment 3 and only one country reported a budget that is increasing and has reached the 0.5% GDP target.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the dire funding shortfalls in the WASH sector and the stagnant growth in national-level WASH budget lines across Africa are more important than ever. This is compounded by the revenue loss experienced by utilities, who are continuing to provide access to water, providing water supply through alternative methods like tanker trucks, and in some cases reconnecting users who previously had their service suspended. Further burden has been placed on national utilities who have been ordered by some Governments to provide free water and sanitation services during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.This resulted in the utilities inability to collect the same levels of revenue as customers are unable to pay their bills, and oftentimes spending much more than under normal circumstances. However, access to safely managed WASH services have been identified as a key component to preventing the spread of disease and allowing for safe recovery from the disease outbreak, mitigating secondary impacts on livelihoods and wellbeing. Yet, over 400 million people do not have access to basic water services and over 700 million people do not have access to safe sanitation in Africa. Furthermore, over 800 million lacking access to basic handwashing facilities. In Africa, open defecation increased from 204 million in 2000 to over 250 million in recent years. This means one (1) in every four (4) people in Africa practice open defecation.
Therefore, the USAID/WALIS Program is working with AMCOW to identify a Senior Water Economist to develop a detailed Technical Brief and other advocacy guidelines and tools for advocacy and influencing towards increasing WASH financing at the national level. It is expected that the Technical Brief and advocacy guidelines will be premiered during the March 2021 World Water Forum in Dakar. The paper will call upon the heads of state and decision-makers to provide direction and renewed political support to the WASH sector, emphasizing the importance of WASH in improving country resiliency toward COVID-19 and other infectious disease outbreaks. The paper will provide a strong argument and supported by evidence for Ministers responsible for WASH services, as well as Finance Ministers, to ensure adequate funding and other resources are provided to WASH services to support the population through the COVID-19 pandemic and future disasters. The Senior Water Economist will also develop actionable guidance and tools to support the arguments in the Technical Brief for Water and Sanitation Professionals to use. Tools may include information or templates on transparent sector budgeting, budget tracking, media advocacy templates, data availability on financing streams like the 3Ts (taxes, tariffs and transfers), inter-agency cooperation, and/or financial viability modeling. These tools can be collected with permission and collaboration from other organizations or newly developed for this activity. The Senior Water Economist will be expected to use resources from the UN, bilateral and multi-lateral donor institutions, expert sources, academia, and others in the WASH sector when developing the Technical Brief and other advocacy tools.