Blog written by Mathieu Le Corre, Programme Drinking Water, Sanitation and Waste GRET, an NGO member of the Coalition Eau.
A paradigm shift is needed
A big difference in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in comparison to previous global programming exercises (especially the Millennium Development Goals – MDGs), in the water sector, is it’s concern with sustainability. It appears from under objectives of course, but also targets of Goal 6 that go beyond the issue of access to services and also provides integrated management of water resources, the quality of the raw water , ecosystems … This interest in sustainability will lead to a paradigm shift: one can be in the approach to infrastructural project referred only, it must go through a reflection by department, or even wider systemic (who pays, which manages How is it regulated, what skills did you need, what impact does this have …). We count out the necessary but somewhat sterile water points …
Also new is the emphasis on equity and universal access concepts. This should have implications for how to target international aid, think the rates of existing services and mobilize domestic resources:
- Better targeting of international aid: for example, with France is engaged in this field mainly through loans to middle-income countries so that should it be targeted in priority to the least developed countries advances.
- Rethinking rates because too often maintaining low rates for existing services (mainly in town and in the neighborhoods off) returns to subsidize access to water and sanitation for the urban middle classes already connected, to the detriment remote rural household networks. Or reach targets 6.1 and 6.2 means find access solutions for them, they are still the majority of households in Africa.
- Finally, domestic resources are not sufficiently mobilized today. Tax revenues mobilized by the southern states are low in proportion compared to those of OECD countries, they are poorly allocated to the water sector and sanitation.
The need to define suitable indicators
The objectives will be measured by indicators set globally. This concern for universality carries the risk of unsuitable indicators for the least developed countries. Indicators are very important as they will determine the vocabulary and grammar for years to come. For drinking water, it is the percentage of the population using “Safely managed drinking water services.” Behind this concept lies the access to water at home, certainly enviable, but not immediately possible in rural areas. To prevent the indicator make us forget improved access arrangements neighborhood or village, the indicator could be disaggregated by service level (collective water point of home water point). It is then to consider access to water as a scale on which we progress from one service level to another better. The disaggregation level of service is also essential for sanitation – is also in this sector that the concept of “scale” was born. It would also act to disaggregate the indicators site to measure access to water and sanitation for households, but also in schools and health centers. Disaggregate and also helps to provide the means to measure equity.
Finally, many organizations, including the Water Coalition, worried about the absence of an indicator on hygiene in the list currently proposed by the Indicators Group of Experts. Yet improving hygiene practices would be one of the most effective ways to decrease water-borne diseases. A simple indicator of hand washing with soap must be integrated to measure the target 6.2.
Responsible and accountable states
States are committed to the global level this September, the challenge is now that these ODD find their local translation. A translation that would be useful to include civil society in its implementation, it is to ensure that these objectives are appropriate by citizens. For that commitments are met will require vigilant citizens cornaquant their governments. It will be necessary to raise public awareness and strengthening civil society and its ability to play an advocacy role.
The commitment of States covers all the ODD, but some states already seem to want to choose some goals to implement priority among the list of 17. But this set is interdependent, it is not a list races in which to choose what one wants. To progress it will leave no orphan theme – including ours!
The objectives of sustainable development set a course, their formulation as well as the indicators that underpin them will determine how the world of development work in the coming years. We can rejoice in the appearance in the vocabulary of sustainability, universality, equity. This will force to approaches more “program” that “project”, the definition of legal frameworks, governance mechanisms that will be specific to each country and its history, pricing policies and subsidy, mobilization of local funding at better targeting of international funding. But in the end what will be decisive is the political will and citizen watch that will allow this determination to be translated into action.