Blog by Neil Jeffery, published on Huffington Post
A few months ago, I took part in a Guardian Global Development Professionals Network debate on the effectiveness of Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) in international development. The other panellists in general took a questioning view of PPPs, understandably cautious after high-profile cases between the private sector and governments have not delivered what was promised, or did not offer value for money.
As I listened to my fellow panellists, I realised that although we all had different views of the strengths and weaknesses of PPPs, we all agreed about what PPPs are trying to achieve, or at the very least, the gaps that they are trying to bridge.
At current funding rates, the Sustainable Development Goals will not be realised. The World Bank estimates that countries need to invest $114 billion per year (more than triple their current spending) on infrastructure to reach the drinking water and sanitation targets – and this doesn’t include the cost of operating and maintaining infrastructure after it has been built.
This projected shortfall means the opportunity to reach millions of people who need improved water and sanitation will be missed – and by a long way. Right now, one in four urban residents in sub-Saharan Africa currently lack access to safe sanitation services – and as cities grow, this number is likely to get worse.
To combat this challenge, African and Asian governments cannot be solely dependent on international funders – they need to find their own ways to generate resources for the provision of basic services.
The private sector can provide some of these resources. But is it possible to harness the power of the market to reach the poorest with adequate services at an affordable cost?
This report is based on findings from three new WSUP reports:
Public-Private Partnerships explained: urban sanitation delivery in Bangladesh
Public-Private Partnerships explained: urban sanitation delivery in Kenya
Public-Private Partnerships explained: urban sanitation delivery in Zambia