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Critical mass: An overview of the Mutual Accountability Mechanism at the Sector Ministers' Meeting

Sanitation and Water for All Secretariat
03 Apr 2019

SWA partners draft commitments at the "Mutual Accountability Mechanism Kick-off Meeting" - Lisbon, 2018


All SWA partners have been working hard over the last few months to prepare for this fifth Sector Ministers' Meeting. There have been many multi-stakeholder discussions across the SWA partnership to discuss future plans and strategies for water, sanitation and hygiene. These have also provided an opportunity to identify and decide upon commitments drawn from national plans and strategies.

At this meeting, 47 national governments and 17 global and regional organizations presented a total of of 250 commitments.

Commitments have been made across all constituencies, with the majority made by countries and CSOs, but these are also often supported by private sector, research and learning institutions and external support agencies.

Commitments are being made to review policies and develop stronger financing mechanisms to ensure that they are fit-for-purpose to ‘leave no-one behind’. Private sector actors are committing to develop models to strengthen rural sanitation and mobilize private investors, civil society actors are committing to strengthening collaboration with the government, research and learning institutions are committing to increasing knowledge on issues such as climate resilience, external support agencies are committing to providing support in line with government priorities.

In discussing the progress of the Mutual Accountability Mechanism with those countries and partners that have been working to implementing it, we have gathered the following lessons:

Bringing an disparate group of people representing a range of institutions together will provides a stage for challenging, but productive discussions. And it is often in those difficult conversations that the most creative solutions can be found. Of course, in discussing issues as critical as water and sanitation, everyone is in agreement that a solution must be found.

Accountability is critical to the success of any programme. We are familiar with sector partners holding government accountable, but it has been more difficult to hold CSOs and other development partners accountable. The Mutual Accountability Mechanism requires that the role of each constituency is examined, rather than relying on a single institution to achieve the SDGs, and all partners are held accountable.

There are still difficulties to ensure that all stakeholders’ actions align with the sector plan and strategy and, in turn, with the SDG targets. Working collaboratively brings greater legitimacy to the outcomes of national joint planning processes.

Identifying commitments through national planning and review processes makes direct links to the Ministerial level – and this is further strengthened through the links to the global mutual accountability mechanism.