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Impact Evaluation Study of Rural Water Supply and Sanitation in Punjab, Pakistan

sector: Water and Other Urban Infrastructure and Services | country: Pakistan

1. Rural water supply and sanitation projects deliver significant gender benefits in terms of (i) reduced drudgery for women and girls engaged in fetching water, and (ii) increased girls’ attendance particularly at the high school level.

2. Current rural water supply and sanitation (WSS) project designs largely focus more on improving water access to the households, and less on ensuing wastewater and solid waste management issues. Hence, the project designs need to (i) be based on lessons from past operations of ADB and other development partners and conceptual framework demonstrating clear linkages between planned development interventions and expected outcomes and impacts; (ii) include only directly relevant components and each component must be adequately resourced and implemented by the most appropriate agency; (iii) develop synergy between water supply and sanitation with strong commitment and focus supported by sizable investment in sanitation; (iv) make provision for a functional monitoring and evaluation arrangements with baseline data for the project and comparison (control) areas; (v) recognize the medium to long-term role of non-government organizations and private sector in supporting community-based organizations; (vi) make provision for additional mechanism for WSS to poorest of the poor and other disadvantaged groups because an upfront cash requirement for household connection limits their participation in conventional WSS projects and (vii) strengthen voices of females in the design and implementation arrangements. [Executive Summary; Main text, paras.83-89]

3. ADB need to proactively partner with other development partners in water supply and sanitation (WSS) specifically in (i) creating demand for sanitation investment; (ii) improving delivery of safe water; (iii) strengthening institutional capacity of CBOs, NGOs and private sector; (iii) strengthening institutional incentive structure for effective management and WSS services; and (iv) water demand analysis, water resource mapping and water use regulations. The WSS projects in Pakistan had limited coordination or complementarities with other development partners (including local nongovernment organizations and government agencies) thereby negatively influencing project relevance and sustainability. Proactively working with other development partners ensure that expected outcomes and impacts from development interventions are realized with efficient utilization of resources and without duplication of efforts. While it is recognized that inter-agency coordination and partnerships are difficult to implement for various reasons, such partnerships tend to be successful when the collaboration starts at an early stage. [Executive Summary; Main text, paras. 90-95]

4. Collecting valid baseline data on individuals, households, and communities along with valid counterfactuals (comparison groups) is critical for assessing results and conducting rigorous impact evaluations which can assist in quantifying the impact of development interventions on household welfare. For many projects, however, data either do not exist or are inadequate to meet even basic requirements for meaningful project evaluation (e.g., in the absence of data, financial sustainability of projects could not be evaluated). [Executive Summary; Main text, paras. 80,96,97]

5. To maximize sustainability of project benefits, there is a need to (i) provide support to bridge finance operation and maintenance in the initial years of operations (even after project completion); and (ii) strengthen capacity of community-based organizations (CBOs) to address technical, managerial and financial management issues, among others. Evaluation noted that weak institutional and financial capacity of CBOs for operation and maintenance of WSS infrastructures places project sustainability at risk. [Executive Summary; Main text, paras. 79,80,98-100]

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