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Results-based financing in WASH: strengthening the evidence base

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Lucrezia Tincani

Andrej Kveder, Lucrezia Tincani, Patrick Ward, Sarah Keen

Results-Based Financing (RBF) is becoming an increasingly popular financing approach for development projects but evidence on its effectiveness remains weak, especially in the WASH sector. We led the evaluation component of DFID’s large RBF project, operating across 13 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia.

The team designed and implemented a mixed-methods sustainability evaluation, tracking the use of WASH services over three years in two case study countries. A longitudinal household survey was complemented by key informant interviews and focus group discussions to better understand the reasons behind different outcomes within and between recipient communities. In addition, the team will undertake a process evaluation, assessing the successes and challenges of the implementation of the RBF approach across a range of case study countries. The project was designed to provide insights into the role of RBF and its effectiveness for DFID and the wider development community, as well as ongoing operational learnings and guidance for the implementing organisations.

Challenges

DFID and other donor agencies are increasingly moving towards financing methods that link payments to results and performance. RBF has a number of potential benefits over more traditional upfront input financing: by placing the emphasis for delivery on the recipient and aligning incentives with outcomes, RBF should support improved results and greater innovation. However, these benefits remain unproven, especially in the WASH sector, where there has been insufficient evaluations of RBF projects to allow the emergence of lessons on what works, when, and why.

Our approach

Our team of experts conducted both a sustainability evaluation and a process evaluation over a three-year period to better understand the implementation and outcomes of the RBF WASH interventions in selected countries.

The sustainability evaluation focused on two countries to provide in-depth insights into the ongoing use of WASH services within recipient communities. We conducted a longitudinal household survey complemented by interviews with various stakeholders, to better understand if and why services are still being used in the years following installation. Surveys covered more than 2,000 households.

Adopting this mixed-methods approach allowed for a much deeper understanding of the different factors that interact to influence sustainability. Initial focus group discussions in recipient communities helped ensure survey questions were tailored to specific contexts, supporting the disaggregation of results by a number of different cultural, environmental, social, and economic themes. These results were then explored further through in-depth interviews and stakeholder consultations to identify those factors that aren’t easily captured by quantitative analysis.

The process evaluation component of the project focused on the actual implementation of the RBF modality itself within three case study countries. Based on interviews with the implementing partners, this evaluation will unpick the operation of the approach, including the effect of the incentives and the relationships between key stakeholders.

Outcomes

The findings and lessons drawns from this project were disseminated to a supplier consortia in 2016, and policy recommendations (with wider implications for multiple countries) continue to be shared with DFID as a result of this work.