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The second technical review of the joint donors’ support to the National Target Programme for Rural Water Supply and Sanitation (RWSS NTP II) concluded that the programme has made considerable improvements in 2007. However, the government will have to take swift actions to deal with a number of challenges including weak capacity and slow progress in household sanitation
This joint government donor technical review was conducted from 14th to 28th April 2008. The purpose of the review is to assess the implementation of the joint donor support to the RWSS NTP II and to provide guidance on any changes required in implementation approaches, financial and institutional arrangements for the coming years;

“The implementation of the programme in accordance with the RWSS NTP II strategy has improved considerable since the 2007 technical review” said the Team Leader of the review.

In most of the nine pilot provinces, all districts now benefit from the interventions; more attention has been given to sanitation and to provision of water supply and sanitation at schools and health clinics. The unilateral focus on piped water supply in 2007 has now in most, but not all, provinces been replaced by a promotion of a mix of water supply technologies. Decentralization to district level is increasingly taking place, and communes are also more involved in the programme activities.

Nevertheless, RWSS NTP II has been facing with a number of weaknesses and delays. The capacity of both the central ministries and the provinces are still weak. There is not much improvement in the area of household sanitation. As a conclusion, the review team comes up with 20 recommendations for improving the programme in various areas at both the central and provincial level.

As a follow up to this review, the three donors providing budget support to the RWSS NTPII i.e. Australia, the Netherlands and Denmark, have jointly sent a letter to Dr. Cao Duc Phat, Minister of MARD, Chairman of the RWSS NTP II highlighting to him six issues identified by the joint review.

These are six key issues that will have substantial impacts on the success of the whole RWSS NTP II programme as well as of the TPBS donors’ support to the programme. They relate to i) strengthening the capacity of the RWSS Standing Office in MARD; ii) provision of a full time staff by Ministry of Health to the programme; iii) improvement of the planning quality and process; iv) preparation and utilization of the Medium Term Expenditures Framework for the 2009 planning process; v) promotion of household sanitation; and vi) issuance of the revised Circular 80 on financial management of the NTP II.

The findings of the technical review will form part of the basis for the 2008 Annual Sector Review in June-July 2008 in which the government and donors will assess the possibility of rolling out the joint donor support in 2009
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