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
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
|· 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
· 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.
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
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.