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Closing the Last Mile for Millions - Sharing the Experience on Scaling up Access to Safe Drinking Water and Adequate Sanitation to the Urban Poor

Blume, S., Nordmann, D., Schäfer, D., Werchota, R. (2015)

Published in: 2015
Pages: 38

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH

Blume, S., Nordmann, D., Schäfer, D., Werchota, R.

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Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH


Despite concerted efforts to extend water and sanitation services to the fast-growing numbers of people living in urban low-income and often informal areas, the water sector in many parts of Sub-Saharan Africa appears to be stagnating. Many challenges stand in the way of closing the last mile of physical access for an estimated 250 million unserved urban residents. A misguided focus on conventional household connections for drinking
water supply and an almost complete disregard of sanitation responsibilities at policy and operational level are just two of them. Though providing important first mile infrastructure, the widespread overemphasis on large-scale investment projects is not delivering for many of the urban poor, with dire consequences for individuals and society.

Experience from German Development Cooperation in Kenya and Zambia demonstrates that the sector is capable of funding and implementing a successful scaling up approach in an acceptable time frame. Remarkable results have been achieved by taking a pragmatic stance on operationalising new pro-poor sector policies and focusing on sustainable investments in last mile infrastructure: more than 2.7 million people have gained first-time access to safe and affordable water and sanitation services in the two countries within just seven years, at an average cost of 10-14 EUR/beneficiary for water supply and 24-100 EUR/beneficiary for sanitation.

A key element of this success has been abandoning the conventional (large-scale) project approach with its seriously limiting implementation modalities in favour of explicitly pro-poor financing mechanisms and assigning clear service responsibilities to utilities. Investment funding is disbursed via Trust Funds, which promote low-cost technologies, provide comprehensive implementation support, maintain customised monitoring systems, and facilitate continuous institutional learning.

This paper intends to encourage other Development Partners to learn from the experiences gained in Kenya and Zambia and to contribute to a significant increase in access to water and sanitation by adopting similar approaches and more focused support to extending formal services into low-income areas Key lessons learnt from Kenya and Zambia include:

•Scaling up needs to be embedded in national and local sector institutions and supported by pro-poor sector policy and strategies to reach the urban poor in a sustainable manner.

•Rigorous monitoring beyond completion of investments ensures adherence to minimum service standards and long-term effective contributions to access targets. The process also allows for incremental improvements to service levels in line with available finance as well as customer demand and expectations.

•By ensuring cost efficiency and long-term serviceability of the infrastructure, demand orientation and environmental health, a comprehensive scaling up approach successfully links infrastructure to sustainable sector development in general.

•Joint action on the part of financial and technical cooperation is critical to combine the funding of last mile investments with the conceptual and capacity development that is necessary to scale up services. This is how GIZ cooperates with the Trust Funds’ financing partners in Kenya and Zambia. Working with professional national organizations such as the Trust Funds and utilities has proven particularly advantageous.

Bibliographic information

Blume, S., Nordmann, D., Schäfer, D., Werchota, R. (2015). Closing the Last Mile for Millions - Sharing the Experience on Scaling up Access to Safe Drinking Water and Adequate Sanitation to the Urban Poor. Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH

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English Politicians and local decision makers Practitioners Sub-Saharan Africa


Closing the Last Mile for Millions

Format: pdf file
Size: 1.68 MB

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