I wrote this comment to a message calling for organizations seeking work as implementing agents in the area of sanitation in Nigeria and in India.
I have done a lot of work over the years to address issues related to accounting and accountability. This project design is classic UN project design that makes any sort of meaningful accountability almost impossible. Like so much of the relief and development assistance sector ... a lot of attention is paid in the process of getting funded, and then rather little follow up by anyone to ensure that funds are used to do something of value.The key text from the message is copied at the end.
If I have this wrong ... please let me know!
Many issues prompted me to send a comment including the following:
The Water Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) appears to be associated with WHO ... but not totally. The Secretariat is hosted at UNOPS. The association with the UN is strong enough for them to have to adopt the policies, processes and procedures for project implementation that constrain these projects as much as they facilitate project performance.
WSSCC recognizes the global water and sanitation problem stating on their website "Currently, 1.2 billion people worldwide lack access to safe drinking water and 2.6 billion people lack access to adequate sanitation." written, it would appear around 2000. The plan ... typical of the UN is to make progress over a very large number of years ... in fact by 2025 there would be major changes in the way people think about water and sanitation!
Their idea that people should be at the center of change is laudable ... but in practice as a UN organization it is difficult to do this effectively. They talk about networking and advocacy and a sanitation and hygiene grants programme. This programmme ... the Global Sanitation Fund ... aims to be a well-informed financing channel for delivering funds efficiently to competent organizations in selected countries to accelerate their work in sanitation and hygiene.
The WSSCC website suggests that networking and knowledge management generate proven ideas and methods for sanitation and hygiene so that the advocacy communicates and promotes these ideas and methods, the Global Sanitation Fund finances organizations to implement these same ideas and methods at a larger scale, and the lessons from the grantees’ work feed back both to the networking and to the advocacy. And while all of this may be true, the cost effectiveness of the WSSCC programme is not mentioned at all.
Cost effectiveness may be missing for a very good reasons ... financial data will show how costly the programme is relative to impact ... and the information will also show how puny the initiative is relative to the need. Almost everything the UN does has these characteristics ... and accordingly it is no wonder that achievement of the Millennium Development Goals is something of a mirage. More and more (money) resources used for ineffective initiatives is not the answer ... a strategy epitomized, I believe, in the Millennium Village Projects ... but more money resources needs to be carefully allocated to integrated development where local resources, mainly the human resource, become the key driver of development ... essentially pulling resources to where they are able to do the most good.
Whenever I hear that an organization is using UN policies and procedures my "knee-jerk" response is that this guarantees sub-optimum performance because the accounting and accountability for performance is so weak within the UN system ... a lot of paperwork, but not much acquisition of data to get top performance.
People focus community based initiatives are the way to go ... but they only become practical when there are ubiquitous data about the community and the socio-economic progress and performance of the community. It only becomes possible when there is as much interest in community socio-economic performance as there is in the sector and in the organizational performance metrics.
This is going to come ... hopefully sooner than later. Stay tuned.
Call for Expressions of Interest: Global Sanitation Fund in Nigeria and India
In Nigeria and India, WSSCC Calls for Expressions of Interest to be the Global Sanitation Fund "Executing Agent" or "Country Programme Monitor"
The Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) is now soliciting Expressions of Interest from qualified firms/consultants for in-country components of the Global Sanitation
Fund in Nigeria and India. The components in the respective countries are the "Executing Agency" and the "Country Programme Monitor".
The Global Sanitation Fund (GSF) provides grant support to scale up successful sanitation and hygiene approaches, targeting poor people in countries with the greatest sanitation and hygiene needs. The Executing Agency receives the Global Sanitation Fund grant monies from WSSCC and manages the funded programme of work in country. It selects and enters into agreement with Sub-Grantees who directly implement programme activities on the ground. The Country Programme Monitor verifies programme implementation and reports to WSSCC.
The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) hosts WSSCC's Secretariat. Therefore, the procurement process and contractual conditions will be in accordance with UNOPS rules and procedures.
For more general information about the Global Sanitation Fund at WSSCC, click here: http://www.wsscc.org/en/what-we-do/global-sanitation-fund/index.htm