About UNEP
United Nations Environment Programme
Division of Technology, Industry and Economics
top image
space space space
Newsletter and Technical Publications
<International Source Book On Environmentally Sound Technologies
for Wastewater and Stormwater Management>

1.6 Policy and institutional framework (Topic f)

The stability and sustainability of the water sector services, particularly wastewater and stormwater management, depend not only on the structure and the financial capability of the country, but also on the policy objectives and institutional framework. The institutions in place in the countries of the region reflect the diversity and complexity of the societies in which they operate. For instance while a federal structure decentralizes water and sanitation to the constituent units (states), as in Nigeria, many African countries still operate a unitary system of government, but the national water and sanitation agencies have provincial offices to which varying degree of power is delegated, as in eastern and south African countries. In many cases, the management of these services in urban areas is conceded to a national utility, parastatal, corporation, major municipalities or a private company jointly owned with the government. The latter is the case with SODECI in Cote d'Ivoire. This is one of the few countries that links sanitation or waste disposal with storm drainage. Examples of countries where municipalities are given responsibility for providing the water and sanitation services, and to a less extent, storm drainage, in urban areas include South Africa and Ethiopia.

1.6.1 Importance of management practice and autonomy

Many of the public and parastatal institutions are weak and in need of strengthening. These institutions are afflicted with poor management practices, overstaffing with poorly motivated and trained personnel, inadequate equipment and technical expertise as well as meagre financial resources, so the vicious circle continues.

A key factor of institutional capacity is the degree to which the service organization is financially autonomous and freed from the national budget. Authorities or agencies that derive the bulk of their revenues from user payments (e.g. water and sewerage fees, connection charges, special taxes), also possess the greatest stability (e.g. SONEDE in Tunisia, REGIDESO in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Kinshasa), SODECI in Cote d'Ivoire, the Water Supply Department in Nairobi, the Municipalities of South Africa and the transformed Water Corporations in Nigeria, particularly those of Lagos, Ogun, Kaduna States and Abuja Federal Capital Development Authority FCDA).

1.6.2 Political will and co-ordination of key organizations

Four countries of East Africa have had opportunities to appraise their policies and viability of their institutions in the light of government’s political will to lead their countries in the path of sustainable management. The statements shown in Table 1.17 clearly indicate the policy framework and institutional reforms and capacity building they need to put in place. Even where political will abounds, political instability (due to war as in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Mozambique, Congo-Kinshasa, Ethiopia, Eritrea, etc., or coups d’état) could be the most serious, immediate constraint on the improvement of these urban services in the region. Instability makes it difficult to plan ahead and to maintain implementation schedules. It also defeats efforts to build sustainable institutional capacity.

Table 1.17: Perceived policy and institutional capacity building needs in East African countries


· sanitation policy - to be formulated
· awareness building campaign and advocacy for improved sanitation
· institutional capacity building - develop training programmes for urban and environmental sanitation (UES)
· consistent community participation· feasible cost recovery mechanism and financial management linking O&M with income generating activities.
· security of tenure
 Waste water collection and disposal.
· cost recovery
· people participation
· security of tenure in peri-urban settlements
· establish policy guidelines for choice of appropriate technologies
· catalyse individual and institutional capacity building.
· develop national sanitation policy strategy, finalise white paper and develop operational guidelines
Waste management.
· partnership and co-ordination of actors in the water sector
· data gathering and analysis
· dissemination of information
· involve private sector in UES - framework for PSP
*focus on unplanned/informal settlements in Nairobi and Mombassa. *problem of excreta disposal.
Need for policy on:
· appropriate technology options for on-site sanitation
· appropriate design and provision of latrine accommodation
· sludge emptying and treatment options
· sewage management
· mapping of waterlogged areas to provide information to reduce flooding & pollution
· deregulation of exhauster services for on-site sanitation to involve PSP in latrine emptying and construction.
 *water supply and waste management with special reference to reuse of wastes and reduction of groundwater pollution.
(World Bank 1997a)

The echoes from the East African countries went further to policy and institutional reforms particularly in the following areas:

  • political will - government’s commitment to addressing the problem of slums/informal settlement, and need for advocacy for favourable policy.
  • in particular, that there is need for a policy on prevention of new informal settlements, along with a definite commitment for the improvement or relocation of existing ones, with resource allocation for user services;
  • concerning the institutional set up, there is need for government to define the roles of institutions involved, and to put in place a mechanism for the coordination of key players. This is not peculiar to East Africa. Of the 43 African countries surveyed in 1990 only 24 had a joint management of water supply and sanitation; some coordination mechanism is therefore necessary.

In Burkina Faso, progress in human waste disposal has been hampered by lack of a master plan and poor co-ordination between all stakeholders, with clearly defined responsibility for each agency. These same problems, as we have seen, affect many countries in the region.

      Main Menu


  • Brochure
  • IETC Brochure

  • International Year of Forests
  • International Year of Forests

  • World Environment Day
  • ??????

  • UNEP Campaign
  • UNite to Combat Climate Change