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Interview with Federico Properzi

November 2009


Federico Properzi is a technical officer with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the project manager for UN-Water's Global Annual Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-Water (GLAAS). In 2008, GLASS released a pilot report and preparations are under way for the publication of the first annual GLAAS report. We asked Federico about how the GLAAS report was progressing and how it fits into the Global Framework for Action on Sanitation and Water Supply (GF4A), which was launched last year.

How is the GLAAS report progressing?
“In 2008 WHO, on behalf of UN-Water, published a pilot report aimed at taking a comprehensive overview of the determining factors that are constraining or enabling progress towards meeting the MDG targets for drinking-water and sanitation. This pilot, or 'proof of concept' was well received and it is now to be taken forward with a Global Annual Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-Water (GLAAS) report. The first of these annual reports is planned for publication in February 2010 and it will cover four main aspects: service levels, policy and institutional setting, human resource capacity, and financial system capacity, with external support agencies and recipient countries being part of the analysis."

“We are now at the final stage of data and information collection. We have invited around 50 low/middle-income countries and around 40 donor agencies to participate in the assessment, and we are expecting to be able to report on at least 20-30 countries and 20-30 donor agencies.”

What are the major lessons learned from the pilot report and how will they be reflected in the upcoming report?
“From the feedback received from donors and recipient countries, a major lesson learned is that the sanitation and drinking-water sector lacks a global periodic comprehensive sector analysis, which is able to talk to and influence the high level policy makers. This is a major reason why the sector is not given high enough priority by donor and recipient governments alike, even though improvements in the sector are always achievable, greatly cost-effective and could save many lives. Let's not forget that, for example, diarrhoeal disease alone is the second leading cause of death from infectious diseases, greater than HIV/AIDS.”

"Another lesson learned is that most of the data and information needed for the comprehensive GLAAS analysis are normally available at national, regional or global level, but usually difficult to access. At the same time, there are some key critical information gaps that need to be filled in, such as better knowledge of the human resource capacity in the sector."

"To improve access to data and information, in addition to continuing exchanges with the other UN-Water reports, we have established collaborations with relevant actors, such as the World Bank's Water and Sanitation Program or the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), and we have actively engaged with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Creditor Reporting System. To fill in the critical information gaps we have designed specific information gathering tools and we are collaborating with the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) and the International Water Association on a study on the human resource capacity gap in the sanitation and water sector."

How does GLAAS fit in to the development of the Global Framework for Action on Sanitation and Water Supply?
“The Global Framework for Action on Sanitation and Water Supply (GF4A) is a political initiative launched in New York in September 2008 during the High Level Meeting on the MDGs at a side event chaired by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. It was launched by the governments of the Netherlands and the UK, but it now includes a wide array of governments, NGOs and international organizations. The GF4A aims to increase the effectiveness of existing initiatives and commitments by providing: a mechanism for greater accountability; better coordination for more impact from financing and development efforts; strategic analysis and resolution of bottlenecks and; regular reporting on investments and outcomes."

"Coming to your question, GLAAS is a resource for the GF4A. In particular, the GLAAS findings are used as a basis for the strategic discussions that will take place at the first global High Level Meeting on Sanitation and Water Supply, which will be hosted by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Washington D.C. in April 2010 to coincide with the World Bank's Spring Meetings. This will ensure that the evidence provided by UN-Water is informing the global high level policy making, with real health and economic benefits for all, but especially for the most vulnerable populations."

Last update:06 Feb 2014