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Good sanitation governance and the sustainable development agenda

The building of capable, accountable and responsive public institutions is a pre-requisite for the achievement of sustainable sanitation services for all households in developing countries.
Good sanitation governance and the sustainable development agenda

Dr Nozibele Mjoli, Managing Director of Hlathi Development Services & Chairperson of the South African Water Research Commission Board will speak at the WASH Futures Conference in Brisbane May 2016.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2015, includes a dedicated goal on water and sanitation (SDG 6). This goal sets out to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.” The building of capable, accountable and responsive public institutions is a pre-requisite for the achievement of sustainable sanitation services for all households in developing countries.  

Accountability and access to sanitation services

Research has identified a lack of accountability as a major obstacle to the achievement of universal access to basic sanitation services for all households in poor communities. The ability of citizens to make their voices heard and to hold government officials and political leaders accountable for their decisions and actions is fundamental to good sanitation governance. The suppression of citizens’ voices creates an environment where those in positions of power are not accountable to citizens who voted them into power. The victims of corruption are the poorest households that are denied access to basic water and sanitation services when allocated budgets are diverted to corrupt activities. 

Accountability refers to the extent to which politicians and government officials honour their promises and are accountable to the people and institutions they serve. This requires the empowerment of the civil society and the establishment of appropriate functional stakeholder forums for public participation and community engagement. Good sanitation governance is underpinned by the principles of participation, accountability, transparency and fairness.

Sanitation governance in South African Local Government

To address the problem of weak sanitation governance in South African Local Government, the Water Research Commission funded a study to develop a framework for sanitation governance which is based on three governance dimensions, namely, capability, accountability and responsiveness. The outcome of this study was a framework for sanitation governance which aims to support water services authorities and WASH practitioners to implement good sanitation governance at the local government level. The indicators of good sanitation governance included in the governance framework were informed by the good sanitation governance practice identified from selected South African case studies municipalities. The essential indicators of accountability included: allocation of dedicated resources for public participation, establishment of functional ward committees which are democratically elected by the local communities, effective communication channels, transparency and availability of appropriate accountability tools such water and sanitation customer service charters, service levels standards and regular customer satisfaction surveys.

Successful implementation of good sanitation governance in local government depends on strategic visionary leadership that embraces the values of honesty, integrity, transparency and accountability.

A diagrammatic presentation of the Framework for Sanitation Governance in South Africa Municipalities is shown below:

sanitation governance SA framework

The author

Dr Nozibele Mjoli is the Managing Director of Hlathi Development Services and Chairperson of the South African Water Research Commission Board. She is an experienced researcher and consultant in the water services sector. Her research focus is on policy, strategy and governance issues that are crucial to sustainable water and sanitation services. 

Her career path includes teaching and research at the University of Cape Town and CSIR, academic roles at North West University and the University of KwaZulu-Natal and research management and directorship at the Water Research Commission. She is also an author of a book on gender diverse leadership. 

WASH Futures 2016

Exploring accountability and shared governance in water, sanitation and hygiene governance is a key focus of the Service Levels and Sustainability: WASH Management stream of the WASH Futures Conference 2016.  

Dr Mjoli will be sharing her knowledge and presenting at the conference on how accountability is central to good sanitation governance on Monday 16 May.   

For more information on #WASH2016 please visit: www.wash.com.au 

 

 

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