Regulations & Accountability

Accountability and Regulations South Asian Conference on Sanitation 2018, Pakistan PREVIEW

The features of the regulatory state at the end of the 20th century had made re-arrangements of governmental architecture, control mechanisms and relationships between actors. Apart from changing ownership structures in various service delivery domains, thus shift had been associated with the creation of quasi-independent agencies, the supposed formalisation of relationship between actors as well as the increasing number of actors involved in the regulatory space . The ‘regulatory state’ is said to have let to a more complex ‘regulatory space’ of over- and under-lapping relationship across regulatory regimes, involving to a varying extent government departments, politicians, regulatory bodies, ‘target population’, firms, shareholders and the wider public. Decision-making in areas involving politically sensitive trades-offs, for example between value of economic efficiency, social and environmental objectives as well as security of supply concerns, are seen to have been moved from majoritarian to non-majoritarian institutions . Furthermore, accountability may not only be required legally, but also represent responses to demand on reputation and legitimacy. Similarly, regulatory and other standard-setting regimes have become increasingly internationalized in a number of policy domains. Thus, accountability and transparency involve a multiplicity of relationship, based on different types of power relationships (accountability and transparency requirements can be established coercively or through voluntary consent, and may receive different degrees of ‘acceptance’ by those held accountable). Therefore, question of ‘who is accountable to whom and for what’ are said to have become increasingly pertinent .

With the advent of 21st century, leaders of 189 countries signed the Millennium Declaration, which was based on eight measurable goals for the target date of 2015. This was a historic initiative to make the world accountable for multiple targets of food security, gender equality, health, education, environment and partnership. Deliberate efforts to achieve, these global commitments had led to creation and re-arrangement of various intuitional and legal entities and set-up at countries’ level. At regional level, South Asian Conference on Sanitation in 2003 and later on, was launched as another forum of creating self-accountability of member countries towards their regional and global commitments. The optimal achievements of Millennium Development Goals at global level contributed in formulation of seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the world that mainly built on the earning and experience of MDGs with more focus on quality aspect. On the other hand, launching of SDGs placed policy standards and institutional implications within the member countries. In recent years, many global and regional initiatives underpinned accountability as key ingredient of effective WASH governance. An overview of SACOSAN countries in context of regulation and accountability is presented here.

The Article Fifty-Two constitution of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan directs to provision of free preventative healthcare measures to all citizens. The enactment of Environmental Law of Afghanistan 2007 has led to establishment of National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) as an independent institutional entity. This Act dispensed the powers of monitoring and regulating air and water quality, waste management, pollution control and others to the NEPA

Since, 2003 the Government of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan authorized Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD) to lead, through newly established Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Programme (RWSSP), all Rural Water Supply and Sanitation (WATSAN) activities in the country. For this purpose, national policy framework was formulated by MRRD with the support of the sector line ministries and stakeholders in September 2004. The policy was revised and renamed as National Rural Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Policy in 2010 which provides a roadmap for improving the quality of life of people in rural areas by ensuring access to safe water and improved sanitation and promoting the adoption of hygienic practices at the personal, household and community levels. Provincial Rural Development Departments PRRDs, District Development Assemblies (DDAs) and Community Development Councils (CDCs) are the respected sector institutions at the provincial, district and village levels respectively. Ministry of Public Health (MoH), Ministry of Education (MoE) and Ministry of Urban Development Affairs (MUDA) are the key sector ministries engaged in WASH services. Sector International and National Non- Governmental Organizations (I/NGOs), United Nation (UN) agencies, Civil Service Organizations (CSOs) and other support organizations are key sector stakeholders in WASH.

Article 18(1) of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh states that” the state shall regard the raising of the level of nutrition and the improvement of public health as among its primary duties....”. All activities of the Water Supply and Sanitation in country are thus primarily aimed at improvement of public health and the environment. Under the Water Supply and Sewerage Act 1996, water and sanitation agencies (WASAs) have been established in major cities, with the mandate of ensuring water supply and sewerage services within the cities. The Local Government (Paurashava, City Corporation, Upazila Parishad and Union Parishad) Acts of 2009 guide the activities of the WSS sector at the local level. The proposed “Water Supply and Sanitation Regulatory Commission Act 2015” directs to formulate “Regulatory Commission” for the WSS sector in Bangladesh that will function in an independent, accountable, and transparent manner to regulate tariffs, quality of service, and to protect public interests. Water Supply and Sanitation Strategy 2014 has articulated the targets for the country. The Water Act 2013 has been enacted to make provisions for integrated, development, management, abstraction, distribution, use, protection and conservation of water resources .
The Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC) leads the development of five-year development plans (FYPs) which include setting national targets and budget allocation for Sanitation and Hygiene Programmes. The National Environment Commission is responsible for establishing and ensuring compliance with standards, codes of practice and regulations on effluent discharge, septic tanks and water quality. The Constitution obliges the Royal Government of Bhutan to ensure a safe and healthy environment for all Bhutanese citizens and stresses on non-discrimination on the grounds of sex, race, language, religion, politics or other status. Although access to water and sanitation, nor to a healthy living environment, is explicitly mentioned as a right within the Constitution, the Royal Government of Bhutan has since recognised it as a right . The elements of the Constitution which relate to sanitation include: environmental protection, provision of a healthy living environment, and the pursuit of Gross National Happiness. Furthermore, the Rural Sanitation and Hygiene Programme strategy puts special attention to the sanitation and hygiene needs of women, girls, nuns and persons living with diverse abilities (including the elderly, the sick) & their meaningful participation in WASH .
In India, where the right to water is not enshrined as a fundamental right in the national Constitution, courts at both state and federal level have interpreted Article 21 of the Constitution, the right to life, as encompassing the right to safe and sufficient water. Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 of India under chapter III guide measures for controlling and preventing environmental pollution in water, land and air. This act further directs for establishment of environment laboratories as monitoring entities for environmental pollution. National Water Policy 2012, envisaged the role of Water Regulatory Authorities at state level for equitable access to water for all and its fair pricing, for drinking and other uses such as sanitation, agricultural and industrial. National Urban Sanitation Policy 2008 set the goal of community-driven, totally sanitized, healthy and liveable cities and towns. This policy has been built on against key objectives of awareness generation and behaviour change, open defecation free, integrated city wide sanitation and, sanitary and safe disposal. Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation is the nodal department for the overall policy, planning, funding and coordination of programmes of drinking water and sanitation in the country. There are separate Ministries for urban and rural development in country with responsibility of overall socio-economic development in their particular constituencies while water and sanitation development is also one of their mandates. Public Health Engineering Department and Panchayati Raj/Rural Development Department are other water and sanitation development agencies. Ministry of Water Resources is an apex body for policies, rules & regulation and laws, formulation and administration for the water sources in India.

Article 23 (a) and (f) of the constitution of Republic of Maldives entitles clean water and sewage system as right of every citizen. Environment Protection and Preservation Act of Maldives 1993 empowers the Ministry of Planning, Human Resources and Environment for developing rules and regulations to for environmental protection. This act also directs for safe disposal of waste. The draft Water and Sanitation policy of 2015 takes note of the constitution and emphasis to improve governance by developing human resource capacity, promoting awareness, strengthening monitoring and evaluation, research, and learning at all levels. The policy further aims to use the available resources efficiently and therefore encourage integrated and multi-disciplinary approach to the planning, formulation and implementation of projects. It will further utilize alternative methods of financing, including user fees, involvement of private sector and, public private partnerships and other methods of cost sharing.

Water and Sanitation Department (WSD) under the auspices of Ministry of Environment and Energy (MEE) is one of the key departments responsible for the water and sanitation sector in Maldives. Under this setup policy making and construction of sewerage and water supply system is a responsibility of MEE. Water supply, sewerage system design, tariff approval and water quality monitoring are the responsibility of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a semi-autonomous institute under MEE. Emergency water transportation task is held by the National Disaster Management Cell. There are three water and sewerage utility companies in the country that provides these basic services in the islands.

Article 35 (4) of the Constitution of Nepal states, “Every citizen shall have right to access to clean drinking water and sanitation”. Article 24 (e) and (f) of the Environment Protection Act, 1997 of Nepal directs Government to frame necessary rules for water, air, noise, soil pollution and; Management and transportation etc. of wastes. In 1989, the government has revised Solid Waste (Management and Resource Mobilization) Regulations. In the same year, enactment of Nepal Water Supply Corporation Act 1989 led to establishment of National Water Supply Corporation that is responsible for water supply in 20 cities of the country. Drinking Water Regulation 1998 regulates the use of drinking water, provides for the formation of Drinking Water User Associations and sets out the procedure for registration, deals with licensing of use drinking water, deals with the control of water pollution and maintenance of quality standards for drinking water and Sets out the conditions of service utilization by consumers. Local Self Governance Regulation 1999 empowers Village Development Committees and District Development Committees for formulating and implementing WASH plan. Rural Water Supply and Sanitation National Policy 2004 and the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Sectoral Strategic Action Plan 2004 recognise that all people have a right to access to basic water supply and sanitation services and that these services are necessary for socio economic development and to combat waterborne diseases. Subsequently, National Policy for Urban Water Supply and Sanitation enacted in 2009.

The Constitution of Pakistan secures several basic fundamental rights of citizens. The Article 9 relating says, “No person shall be deprived of life or liberty, save in accordance with the law.” Legal experts say the article guarantees the right to life, which includes provision of basic amenities such as water, food, healthcare and education. This suggests that every Pakistani has the right to get uninterrupted access to basic amenities, including water.

After the 18th amendment in the constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector is a provincial subject and overseen by a number of departments, including Public Health Engineering Department (PHED), Local Government and Community Development, Works and Services, Health, and Education for WASH in schools. Further two articles of constitution of Pakistan are linked to water and sanitation. Article 24 is about protection of property rights and Article 155 that is about complaints as to interface with water supplies. Pakistan Environmental Protection Act 1997 that has been revised in 2014 by the provinces is key law that is related to environmental policies and ensure their implementation. Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for Prepare and publishes an annual National Environment Report on the state of the environment; ensure enforcement of the National Environmental Quality Standards, establishing standards for the quality of the ambient air, water and land, by notification in the official Gazette, in consultation with the Provincial Agency concerned. The Municipal Water Act in two provinces has been drafted with the purpose to address the need for everyone with a focus on assuring a reasonable quality of life, the need for equitable access to municipal water services and the operational efficiency/economic viability of municipal water services. Provincial local government acts 2013, crafted the responsibility of elected local councils for managing, maintaining and monitoring the WASH services in their constituency, and this is key accountability framework for the local elected councils but this is still not well defined. Informal arrangements through formation of district and provincial WASH committees, though have been notified by the respective provincial governments, is considered viable mechanism for ensuring regulations and accountability is in place. However, there are duplication and overlapping of laws related to WASH in the country. Absence of a comprehensive and unified WASH legislative framework is key bottleneck for effective voice and accountability in Pakistan.

Sri Lanka’s legal framework for sanitation dates back to colonial era and the first piece of legislation was “The Sanitary Boards Ordinance No. 18 of 1892”. It created bodies to provide a number of public health services such as electricity, drainage, public conveniences, markets, dairies, laundries and water supply in small towns. The Sanitary Boards consisted of officials appointed by the Governor. Thereafter “The Local Boards Ordinance No. 13 of 1898” created Local Health and Sanitation Boards for larger towns. Their composition and powers were similar to the Sanitary Boards. The Local Health and Sanitation Boards started functioning on 1st September 1899. Sanitation was a subject assigned to local government system in the early 20th Century. Sri Lanka’s impressive coverage is mainly due to the strong advocacy of the Public Health Inspectorate, to regulate and enforce public and household sanitation over the last century. At present Public Health Inspectors (PHI) are fielded by the Ministry of Health and Local Bodies to carry out a number of services including assurances of water quality and sanitation standards.

The Water Supply & Sanitation Sector (WS&SS) in Sri Lanka has had transformations through important institutional developments attended to during the past five decades. In the early 1950s, government established a separate Water Supply & Drainage (WS&D) department under the then Ministry of Local Government to bring greater dedicated focus on water supply and drainage. Previously it had been a sub-division under the Public Works Department. The WS&D department obtained technical capacity through training of professional engineers and Technical Assistants to design and construct both minor and major water supply schemes across the country, financed by direct budget allocations from the treasury. In 1974 a statutory board was established under an act of Parliament to deal with the accelerated advancement required in the water and sanitation sector. The National Water Supply & Drainage Board was constituted in 1975 as the authority on the development and maintenance of water supply and sewerage in Sri Lanka with technical and administrative capacity. Establishment of the Ministry of Water Supply & Drainage in 2007 demonstrated the commitment of the Government of Sri Lanka to accelerate achievement of the national goals in the provision of water supply and sanitation. The ministry received the 3rd highest national budget allocation to its projects and programs up to 2012. The new government changed the Ministry to the Ministry of City Planning & Water Supply (My of CP&WS) .

Critical Analysis

The concept of accountability is not well defined in the region and even regulations are just like enforcements without clarity about rights and obligations of state and communities respectively. Though there are evidences where local communities have been successful in creating voice and accountability forums but these are not scaled up widely within the countries and region. The meaning of regulation and accountability has been very fluid, and governance for WASH is taken as service provision evident from the creation of different tiers and departments in the countries with little emphasis on quality assurance and accountability frameworks. The diverse set-up and institutional arrangements for regulation and accountability of drinking water and sanitation services among the member countries indicates an opportunity of learning from each other. There is lack of accountability and impact-oriented researches and data at regional level. With the emergence of SDG 6, the definition of national targets has transformed from improved water and sanitation to safe water and sanitation which means involvement and facilitation form diverse stakeholders. This would need to revisit existing regulations and accountability frameworks to become people centred but effective in compliance to national and international standards. Clarity on roles and responsibilities for ensuring regulations with clear accountability is required for a universal and equitable safely managed services.

Possible Areas of Discussion
  1. How people can be made accountable when roles and processes are ambiguous? How to promote clear roles, team leadership and Individual ownership?
  2. How to Activate and engaging government agencies at various levels to improve planning, monitoring and reporting? How we can support Organizations to enhance capacity of various government agencies for participatory monitoring.
  3. What ways and means can be used for information to consumers on their rights and obligations?
  4. How to promote spaces of dialogue and interaction between stakeholders?
  5. How to replicate successful models of accountability in countries that are far behind.
  6. Can CSOs work simultaneously with the state machinery in order to strengthen and shape up political will towards community development and to make both the communities and officials responsive towards their responsibilities?