Making sanitation happen: turning political will into action

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WaterAid
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Ethiopia, India, Sanitation, Governance

This study explores how three countries attempted to translate political commitment to sanitation into results on the ground. It found two critical drivers: prioritisation throughout all government departments; and implementation happening alongside continuous learning and adaption.

In a change from historical trends, more and more governments are voicing their commitment to achievement of universal access to sanitation. How can governments take this beyond rhetorical political will and drive progress on the ground? One essential step is to translate this high-level political commitment into prioritisation of sanitation across government levels and departments, and into course correction processes that enable identification of and adaptation to implementation challenges.

This research, which WaterAid commissioned to the Overseas Development Institute, explores these processes in three countries – Ethiopia, India and Indonesia – paying special attention to the incentives at play. The study found that values of modernity, along with political and professional return, galvanise prioritisation. Personal and professional return also foster course correction, but may equally have a negative effect in the absence of a learning culture and verification mechanisms.

The synthesis report and eight-page policy brief which summarise the study provide decision-makers with ideas to foster political prioritisation and course correction in sanitation, as a way to turn political will into action.

Read the blog post by Andrés Hueso >