In 2000, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Millennium Development Goals that challenged the global community to reduce poverty and increase the health and well-being of all peoples. Two years later, the World Summit on Sustainable Development added access to basic sanitation as a centerpiece of sustainable development strategy and set a series of actions to achieve the global sanitation target – halving the proportion of people without access to basic sanitation by the year 2015.
Nearly 40% of the world’s population still lacks adequate sanitation. Developing access to sanitation services poses technical, institutional, financial and also social and cultural challenges. Major obstacles relate to governance deficiencies, especially the lack of adequate institutional framework. Other hindrances include the weak priority given to sanitation and the insufficiency of substantial investment in the sector. Besides investment, sustainable solutions should also adequately address the other dimensions, especially institutional and financial aspects. It is thus essential to implement sustainable institutional arrangements ensuring the setting up of a political anchor for the sanitation sector as well as responsiveness to the demand, transparency and accountability to users, financial sustainability, and the involvement of all the actors in their area of expertise.
In this context, UNITAR’s Local Development Programme proposes the e-learning course Governance in Urban Sanitation.
The course aims at enhancing the capacity of local decision-makers and sanitation professionals to make the most enlightened decisions and investments in the area of urban sanitation. It provides analytical tools to understand the financial and institutional framework of the sanitation sector, taking into account the needs of urban poor communities.
At the end of the course, participants should be able to:
- Identify the benefits of sanitation;
- Analyze costs and financing of sanitation services;
- Identify suitable institutional arrangements and evaluate service provider options, benefits and limits;
- Integrate accountability when structuring relationships;
- Make communities and microfinance organizations partners in extending sanitation services to the poor;
- Assess specific situations and recommend financial and institutional strategies at the local level towards urban sanitation improvement.
Module 1: Introduction to Sanitation
Module 2: Economics, Pricing and Financing of the Sanitation Sector
Module 3: Institutional Aspects of the Sanitation Sector
Module 4: Sanitation and Poverty
The course will be delivered through UNITAR's virtual learning environment. Learning activities are based on sound adult learning principles. They are distributed in such a way to ensure the achievement of the learning objectives in a flexible manner: learning materials can be consulted in a non-linear way to provide participants with flexibility in choosing the most adequate learning pace. All learning activities are moderated by a high level sanitation expert.
Learning materials include the following elements:
- Basic reading materials (compulsory) intended to understand the basic concepts and principles of modules’ subject-matter;
- Advanced reading materials (optional) for participants willing to learn more about the topic;
- External links to relevant, publications, reports and websites;
- Glossaries of terms and of acronyms as supportive learning tools;
- A community discussion board (forum) will allow participants to discuss topics initiated by the course moderator and to post questions, comments or new discussions.
The learning time is estimated to be about 5 hours per week. This includes study time (about 3 hours/week) and participation in collaborative activities (about 2 hours/week). Time dedicated to assessment activities is not taken into account in this estimation.
Successful completion of the course requires participants to achieve a minimum total score of 70% and entitles to a certificate of completion. A certificate of participation will be issued to participants who took all the mandatory exercises but achieved a score inferior to 70%.The assessment activities are organized as follows:
A self-assessment quiz which enables participants to analyze their level of knowledge before and during the course, making them able to decide how to approach the learning materials and which parts to focus on. This exercise is not graded and can be taken as many times as desired.
- 4 tests, corresponding to each one of the 4 course modules, aim at evaluating participants’ comprehension of the course content. The 4 tests altogether account for 40% of the final grade.
- A case study where participants can apply their knowledge practically. The basis of the case study scenario takes as a basis the concrete situation participants’ municipality/region faces with regards to sanitation. The case study accounts for 40% of the final grade.
- An innovative peer-to-peer review exercise providing an ideal breeding ground for knowledge and experience sharing. Participants evaluate and discuss each other’s case study in the framework of specific group forums. Ultimately, the moderator will provide comments and grade to each participant related to his/her review of another participant’s case study and subsequent discussions with fellow-participants. The peer-to-peer review accounts for 20% of the final grade.
The course is open to decision-makers from local governments as well as representatives of service providers (national governments, private sector, NGOs) and international organizations involved in the sanitation sector worldwide.