In an effort to enhance the delivery of clean water to under-served rural areas, CRIDF recently presented proposals regarding a sustainable pro-poor water supply regulation strategy to attendees at the 12th Annual Conference of the Eastern and Southern Africa Water and Sanitation (ESAWAS) Regulators Association.
ESAWAS is a network of regulators from the Southern African Development Community (SADC), as well as Burundi, Kenya and Rwanda, who work together to improve the effectiveness of water services regulation.
This year’s Conference, held for the first time in Burundi on 21 November, focused on the theme ‘Closing on the last mile to universal coverage – delivering Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6.’ SDG 6 ensures the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
CRIDF provides strategic support to ESAWAS and the presentation reflected both organisations’ commitments to enhancing the climate resilience of utilities and addressing the weak or non-existent regulation that govern water supply in many rural parts of Eastern and Southern Africa.
Ongoing challenges in the rural context include a legislative and policy environment that lacks clarity; institutions that are weak; and a complex institutional environment, which makes coordination extremely difficult – problems that are all exacerbated by climate change.
The presentation, delivered by the CRIDF Institutional Lead; Adrian Wilson, outlined a strategic framework to help countries improve their regulation of access to clean water. It recommended that countries first address Regulatory Governance – ensuring that policies, legislation and institutions are credible, legitimate and transparent. It then stressed the need to improve the Regulatory Substance – making sure, for instance, they are pro-poor and sustainable – and finally to strengthen the Regulatory Impact so that water supplies are reliable, cost-effective, financially-viable and measurable.
Additional considerations are also required. Regulators need to define a role for the private sector and NGOs; strengthen capacities; adopt risk management strategies; and initiate pilot projects to help evaluate approaches before they are launched on a wider scale. When applying the strategic framework, it was also important to understand the national context and the experiences of different countries.
In addition to CRIDF’s work on rural regulation, the Conference discussed the status of water and sanitation in Burundi; efforts to secure urban water supplies – drawing upon the example of the Lusaka Water Security Initiative; investments and subsidies in sanitation programmes and service delivery initiatives; and corporate governance and the integrity of utilities – specifically how they can support the attainment of SDG 6.
Over the coming year, CRIDF and ESAWAS will explore potential pilot projects and conduct a series of studies to analyse and better understand rural regulatory governance regimes in countries across Southern and Eastern Africa.