United NationsDepartamento de Asuntos Económicos y Sociales Desarrollo Sostenible

WASH Accountability for Sustainability programme

Stockholm International Water Institute, SIWI (

    The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) six sets the bar high for the water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) sector. Working towards universal access for all requires systematic and rigorous work on systems strengthening in order to make sure that services and systems we put in place are sustainable. Against this background, UNICEF 2018-2021 Strategic Plan clearly stipulates that to address the challenges related to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), UNICEF “will continue to work with partners to strengthen national systems, with particular attention to gender considerations.” The UNICEF 2016-2030 WASH Strategy underscores Accountability and Enabling Environment as aspects to “do better”. In accordance, this partnership with UNDP - SIWI WGF is proposed to enhance accountability and enabling environment, systematically within UNICEF WASH programming. More integrated and structured technical assistance by the UNDP - SIWI WGF within UNICEF country-level programming will in turn systematically improve the sustainability of its water and sanitation service delivery to those who need it the most.


    The “Accountability for Sustainability” programme was established primarily to improve the sustainability of water and sanitation services through the inclusion of WASH governance and accountability aspects in country level programming. The partnership between UNICEF, UNDP-SIWI Water Governance Facility and SIWI aims to provide UNICEF and UNDP WASH staff, and their government and non-government counterparts with the accountability tools and guidance they need to achieve improved governance and thereby help shape programmes to deliver increased sustainability of WASH services. The collaboration has two specific objectives: • Generate and share knowledge on Enabling Environment, accountability and sustainability in WASH service delivery • Support to improve Enabling Environment, sustainability and accountability within UNICEF supported programmes.

    Contribution to SDG Implementation

    The programme was established in 2014, at the time of post-2015 discussions surrounding the Agenda 2030 and the SDGs. One of the early contributions of the programme before 2016 was for support to UNICEF WASH Programme Division at UNICEF HQ in developing the UNICEF Global WASH Strategy for 2016-2030 which aligns with Agenda 2030 and specifically SDG targets 6.1 and 6.2. The subsequent phases of the partnership and programme put SDG 6.1 and 6.2 at the centre of the vision for sustainable WASH services. More broadly speaking, the programme aims to strengthen the enabling environment for sustainable WASH services, driving progress towards achieving SDG 6.1 and 6.2, and thus the service levels as defined in the SDG 6.1 and 6.2 targets and indicators are factored into the solutions developed and provided through the programme.

    Implementation methodologies

    The overall thematic scope of the programme is linked to Enabling Environment, accountability and sustainability and includes support for: • Improving Accountability and Anti-corruption activities in programming, and the link with Enabling Environment and Human Rights. • Generating evidence and technical support for implementing Sustainability Checks and the Sustainability Framework. • Conducting and documenting WASH BAT process (water, sanitation and hygiene bottleneck analysis) • Rolling out the Enabling Environment training package in different regions. • Programming activities in Enabling Environment aspects such as Accountability & Regulation, policies and strategies, coordination, budget and financing. • Providing desk support to UNICEF Country Offices and Headquarters to develop and review relevant tools and processes. • Technical Assistance to countries about governance issues. • Technical Assistance to countries for climate resilient WASH and water scarcity mitigation. • Developing guidance and technical briefs. • Regional and national trainings/workshops and global learning webinars. • Development of knowledge/evidence papers.


    As the partnership and programme has been running since 2014 and providing outreach support to countries globally, there are numerous results achieved at different scales. One area of foundational support to countries has been support to implement the WASH Bottleneck Analysis Tool (WASHBAT). A recently global review of the WAHSBAT and its implementation was undertaken in 2020 and showed concrete results in terms of the tool helping to catalyse WASH policy and governance reform. Specific outcomes achieved are shown below: Behavioural outcomes: improved coordination, cooperation, trust and leadership Enabling environment outcomes: WASH plans, strategic plans, master plans, national WASH programmes, JSRs, road maps to end open defecation, SWA commitments.

    Factors and Constraints

    Enabling conditions required for success in support to countries is the engagement and local ownership of enabling environment strengthening and governance reform processes from governments, supported by UNICEF. Constraints often cited by partners include lack of sufficient financing to effect the identified WASH policy and governance reforms.

    Sustainability and replicability

    Sustainability of WASH services is the central premise of the programme. Specifically for the WASH Bottleneck Analysis Tool (WASHBAT), the programme works with the countries to setup monitoring and accountability mechanisms that are responsible for tracking the implementation of WASH sector performance strengthening action plans. The WASHBAT has been replicated already across more than 30 countries and has more recently been adapted to factor in climate and water scarcity risks into the analysis, with more countries interested in replication the adapted approach.

    COVID-19 Impact

    COVID-19 affected programme implementation, in the sense that the usual country support missions were almost completely stopped for 2020. SIWI have worked with UNICEF to adjust to providing more remote support to countries, at least whilst travel options remain limited. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, that has a strong links to WASH, SIWI led a global COVID-19 WASH Response Monitoring initiative for 84 countries in partnership with UNICEF (see: https://www.siwi.org/what-we-do/water-sanitation-response-to-covid-19/). The results have informed strengthening of the COVID-19 WASH response in over 10 countries. Furthermore, SIWI and UNICEF are currently finalizing a study on the COVID-19 WASH Response for Safe school reopening in LAC and MENA.

    This initiative does not yet fulfil the SMART criteria.
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