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Improving the effectiveness of Water International Development Aid in Central America

Congress: 2008
Author(s): Rosa Castizo Robles
Degree in Political Sciences and Sociology; Master in Evaluation of Public Policies. Consultant for the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation (AECI) and the Secretary of State for International Cooperation. Last year she has contributed to the laun

Keyword(s): Central America, Development Aid, Harmonising water policies, MDGs,
AbstractAt the United Nations Summit in September 2000, the international community agreed to a number of political commitments, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), as targets for development in all over the world. The Target 10 of the MDGs is “halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation”. The World Health Organization considers that achieving the MDG target in water would bring a general economic gain: “every $1 invested would yield an economic return of between $3 and $34, depending on the region”. Moreover, greater investment in water sector would mean reduction in diseases (especially diarrhea), time savings associated with having water and sanitation facilities located, higher productivity and school attendance. In Central America, Panama and Costa Rica have reached this target. Nonetheless, their neighbors Honduras and Nicaragua are still on track, having also the lowest Human Development Index (HDI) of the Latin American Region, together with Guatemala and El Salvador. Firstly, this study shows the several financial instruments currently used by donors in water sector in Central America, like projects managed by NGOs, technical assistance or Sector Wide Approaches (SWAPs). They are financed by bilateral donors, mostly European countries and USAid, and multilateral institutions like the European Commission or the World Bank. Secondly, this research work has focused on the Central American institutions that have a key role for meeting the MDGs, Target 10. The Central American Commission for Development and Environment (CCAD) and the Regional Commission for Water Resources (CRRH) are part of the Central American Integration System (SICA), created in 1951 and composed by eight Secretariats and thirteen specialized institutions. In Vienna, on the 10th of May 2006, the SICA members agreed with donors (countries and multilateral stakeholders) to harmonize development policies and strengthen the SICA governance. Nevertheless, this process has not yield these Vienna proposals, as the development policies in water sector show. This study starts showing the model that the Spanish Official Development Aid and the SICA has begun to apply, in water sector. In the last year, two public-private partnerships have been created in Spain, composed by Central American Institutions and all Spanish donors (General State Administration, Autonomous Regions, Local Administrations and civil society cooperation). These two initiatives (Water Alliance and Araucaria XXI) work as networks of knowledge and they align their projects with Central American demands. Simultaneously, multilateral instruments, as the European Union Water Initiative for Latin America (EUWI-LA), have been re-launched to reinforce the effectiveness of the aid. Moreover, the dialogue with international networks, as Global Water Partnership or Fresh Water Action, has improved the general coordination. Following Vienna Meeting recommendations and based on the Central American water institutions, this study proposes a general financial model for donors in these countries, using the new Spanish water initiatives as a reference. This framework comprises one set of appraisal indicators, one process for assessment, and common conditionalities, increasing the harmonization, effectiveness, alignment and accountability of the development aid in water sector for Central America.
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