ARTHUR MWANSA, ESTHER MSETEKA, Lusaka
WATERAID director of international programmes Olga Ghazaryan says about US$114 billion is needed globally each year to extend safely managed water sanitation and hygiene services to everyone.
Ms Ghazaryan said, unfortunately, this amount excludes operating and maintenance costs for water sanitation and hygiene existing services.
He said this on Wednesday evening when she made her presentation on global perspective on public financing for water sanitation and hygiene in Zambia, during the water and sanitation night under the theme ‘Public Financing for WASH’.
Ms Ghazaryan said according to the 2016 data, Word Bank (WB) aid commitment towards water sanitation and hygiene declined between 2012 and 2015, from US$10.4 billion, to US$8.2 billion.
“Today, we are facing an enormous global challenge in financing the sustainable developmental goal (SDG) number six on water sanitation and hygiene, this kind of challenge is unprecedented,” Ms Ghazaryan said.
She said according to the global analysis and assessments of sanitation and drinking-Water (GLAAS) report, 80 percent of countries worldwide have insufficient funds to meet their national targets.
Ms Ghazaryan said the majority national targets are less ambitious than the SDG on water sanitation and hygiene.
“This is an under estimation of the global challenge. Hence there is a gap between the global challenges, that is, between our level of ambition and our level of financing,”
She said apart from South Africa, the average WASH project for sub-Sahara Africa is 0.2 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP).
Ms Ghazaryan said two major challenges are where to find sources of funding and making the existing funding sustainable.
The Zambia Institute for Policy Analysis and Research (ZIPAR) has urged Government to create domestic resource mobilisation strategy in the water sector to reduce dependence on donor support.
ZIPAR public finance unit research fellow Shebo Nalishebo said there is need to build the taxation capacity needed to finance investment in water supply and sanitation.
Mr Nalishebo said non-government support is critical for water supply and sanitization in Zambia, however, heavy dependency on donor funds can be risky, hence the need to take ownership.
A significant proportion of water supply and sanitation programmes are externally funded by cooperating partners such as the American Millennium Challenge Account, and World Bank, among others.
“Currently, Zambia has no capacity to fully finance its own water programmes as it has relegated the financing of such programmes to external partners. Off- budget funding of the sector is a manifestation of heavy dependence on donors for funding, resulting in inadequate government ownership of the process,” Mr Nalishebo said.
And ZIPAR executive director Pamela Nakamba-Kabaso said policy dialogue helps various stakeholders find ways and means of improving access to water sanitation and hygiene through enhanced public investment into the sector.
“I am also aware that the Ministry of Water, Sanitation and Environment Protection is in the process of developing a financing mechanism for water sector and investment plan,” Dr Nakamba-Kabaso said.
The water and sanitation night was organised by WaterAid Zambia in collaboration with ZIPAR, and the Water and Sanitation Association of Zambia.