Financial indicators for water and sanitation at national level: what do we really need to know and early warning system

Financial indicators for water and sanitation at national level: what do we really need to know and early warning system | Source: Catarina Fonseca, IRC Blog, April 18 2016 |

This blog is meant to support those efforts by answering the question: What indicators can be used as a diagnostic tool for the adequacy of budgets and financial flows for water and sanitation?

The current proposed SDG indicator framework will mainly track outcomes: the number of people with access to water and sanitation services. That is what ultimately matters but it is also an indicator that only gives off a ‘late’ alarm. If a country is not showing much progress on access to services yet, it will take several years to address the root causes of the problem. See the blog 15 years to make history, 5 years to make change.

This is the reason why it is also important to track inputs into the sector, particularly money, which can give off an ‘early’ alarm. If for example, analyses show that the funds available for water and sanitation are too little to address financial gaps, it can be addressed much earlier, before it translates into stagnating or lower coverage figures (see for instance Uganda and Tanzania as examples).

Tracking financial indicators does not require sophisticated monitoring systems

The key question is then which financial indicators to track and what level of detail and break-down is needed. This is what was discussed at a recent sector meeting organised by UNICEF and where the inspiration to write this blog comes from.

Tracking financial indicators does not require a sophisticated monitoring system. In my experience, it is perfectly possible to collect this information from secondary sources if there is some openness in sharing government financial flows on water and sanitation. However, it does require a system that is tracking government expenditure at different levels. This is already the case in most public administrations in lower income countries.

The problems emerge in the reconciliation of accounts, the level of disaggregation of data and most important for the water sector: linking the money flowing into the sector with the number of people accessing a decent service. See some examples in the testing phase of the WHO TrackFin methodology in three countries in this flyer.

Read the complete article.

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