Public Finance for WASH: making it happen!

Tuesday 25 August | 16.00-17.30 | Room: FH 300

Achieving the SDGs will require mobilisation of funding for WASH on an unprecedented scale. Funding will need to come from all sources, including government. However, subsidies have had a “bad press” in the sector, as they are often perceived to be misallocated.

The construction of large infrastructure often receives considerable government funding (particularly when donors are involved); but public funding for other aspects of WASH delivery (including decentralised infrastructures, capital maintenance, monitoring, and promotion campaigns) is frequently minimal. Yet domestic public finance (at both national and local levels) is clearly of central importance if the MDG achievements are to be consolidated and built upon.

There are multiple reasons for the inadequate amounts and efficiency of domestic public finance, including weak understanding of what the needs are; under-appreciation of what is required to deliver sustainable services; unrealistic expectations about private finance; and of course complex political economy issues. How can we change this?    

Centred around a role-play game and subsequent open discussion, this session will explore the political economy of public investment in equitable WASH, and will identify approaches for maximising the amount and efficiency of domestic public finance allocation in the WASH sector. 


16h00-16h15 – Why are we here? Introduction to the Public Finance for WASH initiative: Sophie Trémolet (Trémolet Consulting), Catarina Fonseca (IRC) and Guy Norman (WSUP)

16h15-17h00 – Role play: What can be done to mobilise public funding for water and sanitation?

Participants will be assigned roles as they enter the room, ranging from public government officials to interest groups and they will need to find solutions for mobilizing additional funding for the sector and spending it wisely, in the midst of competition over funding priorities and media scrutiny.

17h00-17h25 – Reflections and lessons from experience

A panel of speakers will reflect on the dynamics revealed by the role play and share lessons from their own experience for mobilizing public finance for WASH. Panel participants will include:

  • Meera Mehta (CEPT, India) - confirmed
  • A local government representative - tbc
  • A central government representative - tbc

17h25-17h30 – Conclusions and next steps, Guy Norman (WSUP)