comments have been disabled.
The consolidation and decentralization of suppliers of urban water and sanitation was the topic of a workshop held on Monday, November 26 at the Movenpick Hotel.
The Minister of Water and Environment, Abdul-Rahman al-Eryani, confirmed the importance of establishing independent local corporations for water supply and sanitation in the main urban cities and related districts, in order to improve services in this field by using modern and appropriate methods and to ensure the access to services for all urban areas of Yemen.
He also emphasized that such corporations must have strong foundations and sound strategies to succeed, and added that this would be facilitated by the establishment of a regulatory agency, due to take place shortly. Al-Eryani further stated that the participation of users and the local authority would ensure the success of any service or utility.
The Urban Water Supply and Sanitation sub-sector reform in Yemen started in 1997. Since then, the decentralization of UWSS has covered 95 percent of the urban population and has improved its standards of delivery tremendously. With these results, Yemen leads the process of sector reforms in the Middle East/North Africa region in such a short time period.
Low coverage for many Yemenis, an inadequate national tariff which was too low to cover operation and maintenance costs, and inadequate service levels provided by a centralized water supply and sanitation utility called National Water and Sanitation Authority provoked the process of reform in this area. On top of that, the Yemeni water sector was highly influenced by government subsidies and cross subsidies, as well as political interference. In 1996, a sector policy strategic study recommended that the UWSS sector should be reformed and operated according to the principles of decentralized management.
Awareness campaigns and consensus building among stakeholders in the sector and political leaders led the Yemeni government to approve its UWSS reform agenda in the form of a Council of Ministers Decree in 1997. It embraced a policy of decentralization, corporatization, and commercialization, separation of service delivery, regulatory functions and public-private-partnership. The decentralization of UWSS aims to improve service delivery and enhance local authorities and community representation in the management of the water utilities.
In 1996, a successful pilot case was launched in the Rada’a utility, which led, through further awareness campaigns, to an ongoing process of decentralization in the UWSS. Consequently, the arrangement of a central agency (NWSA) with headquarters in Sana’a and branches in towns and cities throughout the country was progressively replaced by a decentralized system of Local Water Supply and Sanitation Corporations (LCs), LC branches and Autonomous Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Utilities (AUWSSUs).
This process of decentralization was not smooth; it faced strong resistance from the central organization. Sustainable political will and endorsement of the local administration law helped to overcome all obstacles.
This recent workshop aimed to evaluate the present situation and related bottlenecks which appeared in some regions and among different stakeholders during the implementation of the sector reform, concentrating on two topics. One focal area was the relationship between the LCs and the UWSS utilities in the same governorate. Hajja, Ibb, Hodeidah and Sayoun have been chosen to be reviewed by the MWE. LCs and UWSS utilities in the same governorate will receive proposals of preliminary conclusions on specific priority topics aiming to facilitate consolidation and decentralization. The other focus area was the relationship between the MWE, Local Corporation, Local Administration and the up-coming Regulatory Agency. The working group will produce a chart of suggested information flow, administrative procedures and decision making concerning all agencies involved. This exercise will also guide the participants to propose preliminary conclusions regarding consolidation and decentralization.
According to Anwar Sahooly, the Technical Secretariat for reform of the institutional framework in the Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Sector, support given by donors to Yemen for this area has increased from $5,000,000 to about $700,000,000.