Leading Factors of Success and Failure in Asian Development Bank Urban Sanitation Projects

Evaluation Document | 01 June 2018
Leading Factors of Success and Failure in Asian Development Bank Urban Sanitation Projects

The targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) include access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all, and an end to open defecation, by 2030. Their achievement will require significant new financing. For urban Asia, an estimated $130 billion over 10 years in capital investment will be needed until 2030 if countries are to meet the SDGs’ water supply and sanitation targets. 

This paper contributes to the stock of knowledge on the factors affecting the success or failure of ADB urban sanitation projects. It identifies factors of success and failure from 63 completed and evaluated projects implemented between 2003 to 2016.

The success factors are: 

  1. long-term relationships for policy dialogue,
  2. policy regulatory system and rules for private sector investment in sanitation,
  3. national campaigns for investment in sanitation,
  4. combining water supply and sanitation institutions and cost-recovery mechanisms,
  5. encouraging partnerships with other utilities in member countries, and
  6. encouraging demonstration effects of pilot fecal sludge management at municipality level for a wider effect.

The failure factors are:

  1. no targets for the poor in inclusive planning,
  2. lack of a thorough capacity assessment of local implementing agencies, 
  3. not supporting small-scale independent sanitation providers for fecal sludge management,
  4. not monitoring of environment and health impact indicators,
  5. not incorporating gender analysis and actions, and
  6. slow uptake and disbursement of initiatives under the Sanitation Financing Partnership Trust Fund (SFPTF).

These are illustrative, as country contexts and other factors may come into play.

Lessons for future operations include:

  1. thorough and continuous engagement with implementing agencies from the project preparation stage is essential to avoid or mitigate implementation bottlenecks, 
  2. policy dialogue throughout the project cycle is an essential component to laying out groundwork for private sector participation,
  3. integrated sanitation solutions in cities and other urban areas need to be built on a long-term vision, taking note of local needs for sanitation interventions, as this is the key determinant for success, and
  4. to ensure inclusiveness, it is key to target the poor and vulnerable through a full accounting of beneficiaries.