Water sector policy
There are a wide range of pressing policy
concerns in the water sector, all of which need to be addressed if we are to make progress towards the MDG targets, and importantly
beyond these targets towards universal access. The issues relate both to increasing access to services through new investments
and improving those investments so they result in sustained services of high quality at affordable prices. It seems
increasingly clear that the levels of service which can be delivered to the the world's population cannot reach levels currently
provided in some areas, and indeed the sustainability of these services is in doubt; but with the right policies universal
access at a more appropriate level is still attainable.
Some of the recent policy debate has
focused perhaps unhelpfully on a public versus private provision argument. Despite the heated
debate, much of the real work on this topic in the past years has focused on providing practical assistance to policy makers
who are seeking to develop relationships between public, private and civil society actors in the various tasks relating to
water service provision. Two of these are linked above; the first, The Partnership Paperchase,
looks at how tripartite relationships between actors can be structured and documented, while also providing pointers towards
identifying when a partnership is a partnership and when it should more properly be treated as a contract. The second,
older document, Pro-poor transaction design, looks at structuring private sector contracts so that they generate
incentives to provide services to unserved and low-income communities.
Another interesting current
debate pits straight-forward development projects against more systemic budget support to national programs of governments.
Two documents of interest here were both commissioned by the World Bank. The first is a review of lending by
the World Bank in the rural water supply sector over the past 25 years, while the second looks at how rural water
supply can be better represented in Budget Suport operations.