Scaling up Support to Local Service Delivery for the MDGs: Rural Water and Sanitation Project
About two thirds of the Mongolian rural population lack access to water and sanitation (As of 2008, only one third of the Mongolia rural population had access to improved services (33.7 for safe water source and 34.9 for adequate sanitation). participants showed a great deal of ownership in implementing the project.). The project responds to the urgent need to accelerate Mongolia’s off-track target 16 under the MGD 7 ‘to halve the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation’ and increase funding for public investments in water and sanitation.
The Project aims to develop capacity of local governments to implement their assigned functions in rural water and sanitation, enhance local resource mobilization, improve the quality and access of service delivery, and thus contribute to the achievement of the national MDG 7 target by 2015.The project focuses on Bulgan, Uvurkhangai, Tuv and Dundgobi aimags which have off-track records in MDG targets on access to safe water and adequate sanitation within the period of 2013-2014 with the overall objective to develop capacity of local governments for improved delivery of water and sanitation services in rural areas and enhance local resource mobilization, thereby contribute to the achievement of the national MDG 7 target by 2015.
Project activities will target rural population only, mainly soum center public entities, including schools, dormitories, kindergarten and hospitals. The project will focus on strengthening the institutions required for the delivery of water and sanitation, including clarifications of roles and responsibilities of different actors, improving financing and accountability mechanisms, thus complementing interventions by the UN joint programme which focuses on water and sanitation infrastructure improvements in the selected local areas, behavioral and hygiene education and community ownership of water resources.
As the performance of MDG 7 targets to halve the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation varies significantly between different locations of the country, there is an increasing need to target funding for public investments in off-track areas in order to accelerate MDG achievements nationwide. Access to safe drinking water and sanitation has a fundamental impact on MDG measures related to poverty, health and education.
What are the project goals?
The project responds to the urgent need to accelerate Mongolia’s off-track target of the MDG 7 ‘to halve the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation’ and increase funding for public investments.
Within the MDGs Acceleration Framework, the Project aims to foster capacity development by enabling local governments to fully undertake their assigned functions in the rural water and sanitation, enhance local resources mobilization, improve the quality and access of service delivery, thus contribute to the achievement of the national MDG 7 target by 2015.
Water and Sanitation: To increase the access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation among the vulnerable community members and school children (UNDP & UNICEF)
Major expected outputs
The project will deliver the following outputs:
- Improved oversight, monitoring, policy coordination and service delivery arrangements for rural water and sanitation;
- Capacity of local institutions strengthened for improved service delivery;
- Water and sanitation services expanded in the selected areas;
What results achieved so far
Within the first year of the project, all essential preparatory steps have been taken for smooth implementation of the project in close collaboration with central and local Governments. This included capacity needs assessments of central and local governments, selection of target areas, pre-feasibility studies in target locations, building consensus on the scope of the project and required activities. During the process, the Project was successfully linked with a much larger scale Government programme to improve living conditions in rural settlements, helping scale up the scope and impact of the Project. Key achievements to date are as follows:
Output 1: Improved oversight, monitoring, policy coordination and service delivery arrangements for rural water and sanitation
- The current functional assignment both at central and local (aimag2 and soum3) levels was reviewed through a rapid assessment in September 2013 and recommendations were developed. The recommendations focus how to improve coordination of policy and capacity development and institutional arrangements at the central (coordination) and local levels (technical capacity) for water and sanitation.
- With a workshop organized in 2013, a total of 26 participants including soum Governors and Heads of Public Utilities Service Organizations (PUSOs) at the provincial level, gained knowledge about the project, in particular on cost-sharing and accountability requirements for local governments. Consequently,
- Through extensive dialogues at various levels, commitments were obtained from target aimag and soum Governments to contribute 100 to 200 million MNT, totaling to approx. USD 1 million to the construction of integrated water and sanitation system. As of today, decisions on amount of contribution commitments were made by the Citizen’s Representative Khurals and Local Development Fund in 6 target soums of 3 aimags. Although sizes of contribution vary between soums, this clearly demonstrates local ownership of the Project and accountability for the implementation and future service delivery.
Output 2: Capacity of local institutions strengthened for improved service delivery
- Aimag and soum Governors and PUSO representatives from project target locations undertook a capacity self-assessment for water and sanitation service delivery applying UNDP’s Capacity Assessment/self-assessment Framework.
- Based on the above, a capacity development framework was developed with short, medium and long term capacity development targets for the duration of the project and beyond, to address the capacity development needs and gaps identified by local government and institutions themselves.
- In addition, opportunities to scale up, as aligned with the Governments’ “New Soum” Development Programme were identified and recommendations provided to the project stakeholders and target aimags and soums. To advance this effort, a National Capacity Development Working group was established at the Ministry of Construction and Urban Development (MCUD). The Capacity Development Officer of the Project, who serves as the Secretary of the Working Group is expected to be integrated into the official structure of the Ministry upon the Project closure.
Output 3: Water and Sanitation Service expanded in the selected areas
- A pre-feasibility study (based on local community-needs) was conducted in each target soum by a joint team of MCUD and UNDP. Through the pre-feasibility study a) target aimags and soums were selected according to set criteria and direct beneficiaries were identified (a total of 6,103 people); b) co-financing commitments were obtained from local Governments for the planned civil construction work; c) locally specific needs were identified; and d) development of detailed engineering design for construction (DDDC) were initiated.
- Consensus was reached with the MCUD and the local government authorities on the types of water and sanitation structures and pre-identified technology options. Following consultations with the Government, it was agreed to provide an integrated infrastructures solution that would bring together clean water supply, sanitation facilities and waste water treatment systems, instead of the initially planned partial systems.
- Through the project support, target soum and aimag government offices learned to plan for local investments for water supply and sanitation service provision.
- In general, infrastructure projects require long lead/preparatory time before the actual construction starts. The same applies to this Project. The first year of the project focused on feasibility analyses, capacity assessments, design works and generating understanding and ownership among partners. The construction season in Mongolia is very short. Actual construction work will take place from spring – fall 2014 and have to be finished before the winter sets in.
- The Government launched a country wide scheme (New Soum) to improve living conditions in rural settlements and asked UNDP to link the Korea funded water and sanitation programme with this larger scheme. This provided a very welcome and important opportunity to scale up Project impact in terms of volume and geographic coverage but required some time to determine how to integrate the two schemes. It required putting fiduciary, quality and efficiency assurance mechanisms in place following assessments of capacity, systems and national compliance to UNDP rules and procedures before transferring funds and responsibilities to partners. These caused some delays but project implementation is now on track and the impact of working together with the New Soum initiative is much higher than what could have been achieved alone.
- Integrated Budget Law (IBL) was launched in 2013, which granted local government discretionary power to use Local Development Funds. The IBL requires every project to be reviewed by local citizens (soum residents) through formal consultation and participationwhich necessitatesmore time for final approval. This was another challenge that delayed implementation of the project. However, this can also be viewed as a catalytic opportunity for future development interventions, paving the path for local commitment on the initiative.
Key targets in 2014 are:
- Policy recommendations to the Government on service provision modalities, including that of private service providers. Service standards along with set of guidelines and tools for participatory planning, budgeting, procurement and expenditure monitoring and management.
- Increased capacity for Aimag and soum governments for planning and implementing integrated water and sanitation systems and delivery of services.
- Integrated water supply and sanitation systems established in 8 settlements. Over 6,000 people will directly benefit from these facilities.
To achieve the above targets, the project will support reviews of the W&S legal framework, service standards, performance indicators and monitoring framework, pricing and cost-recovery policies. Based on the findings and recommendations of the capacity needs assessment, a coordination, implementation and monitoring system for rural water supply and sanitation service will be established at the central and local levels. Civil construction of integrated water and sanitation system will be completed in 8 target locations, as enabled through a direct cash cost-sharing of local Governments.
Collaboration with the Republic of Korea
Korean Government takes part in decision making on project matters by being represented in the Project Steering Committee through KOICA. Supported by KOICA, a Gender Officer is placed at the UNDP Country Office, who offers support in gender mainstreaming across UNDP programmes and helps ensure smooth communication between UNDP and KOICA offices on project matters.