CSOs and Local Government working together for sustainable WASH services

Watch the Webinar that occurred on 9 April 2015.

Sustaining WASH services remains a fundamental challenge for WASH practitioners, including both government and civil society organisations. In countries with decentralised governance, aligning the work of CSOs with local government and supporting local government is one of the primary pathways to develop effective exit strategies, scale up successful innovations, learn from failures and support effective services beyond short-term cycles of donor-funded intervention.

Presented by Harold Lockwood, an internationally recognised expert in the field, this webinar explores some of the theory behind local level governance and how this translates into improved provision of basic services, including WASH. The webinar was designed to introduce key concepts, common challenges, and stimulate discussion from the real-life  experience of field staff and managers of CSOs and local government personnel working daily in these contexts.

Mark Harper, Program Manager for the Welthungerhilfe presented a case study from Zimbabwe on the Sustainable SERVICES for EVERYONE beyond the LIFETIME of the project at a FAIR price.


Background to sustainable WASH services working with Local Government

With the signature of the Paris Declaration in 2005 and its guiding principle of aid effectiveness (embedded in the pillars of i) greater ownership, ii ) alignment, iii) managing for results and iv) mutual accountability), the donor community has acknowledged the importance of strengthening governments and coordinating activities to avoid undermining country-led processes. These principles apply equally at national and local levels.

In countries which have opted for decentralisation, this alignment takes the form of working with, and actively supporting, local governments which have the mandate for providing new access and sustaining WASH services. For organisations implementing WASH programmes, supporting local government is one of the primary pathways to develop effective exit strategies, scale up successful innovations, learn from failures and support effective services beyond short-term cycles of donor-funded intervention.

In contexts where decentralisation is only partial or authorities have insufficient technical, human and financial resources, engaging with local governments can be a real challenge. For practical reasons it is not uncommon for NGOs and other organisations to by-pass local government and to work in parallel to government systems. This trend is only exacerbated by the pressure from donors which often have short funding time-frames and push for ‘quick results’. Although this approach brings short-term benefits and more efficient project implementation, it generally leaves behind a heavy burden for local governments. They face the uphill challenge of supporting services that have not been planned in accordance with their technical capacities and about which they are at times not even made aware of. Compounding this situation is the reality that most local governments often lack recurrent funding to provide effective support and oversight to communities.

In cases where governments are better resourced, engagement is often easier, but unfortunately not systematic. In still other cases there can be tensions between central government line ministries for water and sanitation in their relationship to local government. CSOs can find themselves caught between the competing interests and incentives of these two sets of actors. However, even in such challenging contexts, steps can be taken by all organisations to ensure local governments are actively involved in the planning and coordination of activities thereby enhancing the likelihood that services will be sustained.

This webinar is part of a learning series aimed at stimulating learning and sharing amongst CSOs under the CS WASH Fund.

Organisation Date & time Duration Target audience Link Topic Region
Organisation CS WASH Fund Date & time Thursday, April 9, 2015 - 09:00 (GMT) Duration 1 hrs Target audience WASH practitioners and their partners working with CS WASH Fund Link Topic Sustainability Region Southern Africa


Anonymous's picture
For sustainability of CS WASH this type of webinar is most essential.
Raj Kumar's picture
Hi All,
I attended this webinar and found interesting.
My questions:
1. What are the M&E systems to monitor and sustain WASH services
2. How or rather what has been the experience/attempts to integrate and institutionalize M&E systems in to the national and local government's existing systems (if it already exists)

Eagerly looking forward to hearing and learning different experiences.
Anonymous's picture
Will it be possible to listen again to this webinar and access the presentations? I unfortunately missed the first 15 minutes of the session and am eager to hear what was discussed. Thanks
Bronwyn Powell's picture
Thank you for the comments and questions. The Webinar recording is now available on the website. Thank you to all those who participated, there was useful discussion, and plenty of good questions with many focussed on embedding M&E systems.