Expenditure Indirect Support (ExpIDS)

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Indirect support is about creating and regulating the enabling environment for water, sanitation and hygiene services. It includes the costs for macro-level policy formulation, planning, regulation, sector-level monitoring, developing IT systems, maintaining frameworks and institutional arrangements, etc.

Indirect support includes capacity support to service authorities. Service authorities are those bodies, often district local government or an equivalent, with legal responsibility for guaranteeing water, sanitation and hygiene services in a defined area, fulfilling functions such as planning, coordination, oversight of service delivery. It may be the legal owner of water and sanitation assets but not necessarily so. In some cases, service authorities may also have delegated functions of regulation. They may also be responsible for technical assistance, but can contract this out to an association of community-based providers, an NGO, or the private sector.

Indirect support includes costs on support to increase capacities, for example capacity building for professionals and technicians and capacity support to local government as service authorities, to adhere to national norms, standards and guidelines.

In comparison to direct support, expenditure on indirect support is not particular to a programme or project.


Institutional arrangements
Institutional arrangements for indirect support are assigned to national level entities (Smits et.al, 2011). Specific arrangements differ from country to country for examples see table 1. If there is no independent regulator, government ministries and agencies are tasked with responsibilities such as planning and policy formulation or even regulation. Donors, NGOs, research institutes and other entities at a national level may also contribute.

Table 1. Institutional arrangements for indirect support for different countries in 2011.

Country Capacity support arrangements to service authorities
Benin Deconcentrated offices of the Water Ministry at departmental level are responsible for capacity support in areas such as tendering, contracting, management, and improved monitoring.
Burkina Faso Regional level deconcentrated offices of the Water Department are supposed to support communes, but until very recently there has been no representation of the Water Department at this level. In addition, there is an institute dedicated to the training of water technicians and professionals.
Colombia There is no clearly articulated national strategy for capacity support. Ad hoc and de facto support is provided at departmental level through some large departmental water supply programmes.
Ethiopia Zonal and regional offices of the Ministry of Water are supposed to provide support to woreda staff, but in practice this is also very ad hoc.
Ghana The deconcentrated offices of the line agency, CWSA (Community Water and Sanitation Agency), is mandated to support District Water and Sanitation Teams with capacity building and training. In practice, while well-resourced in terms of human capacity, the regional CWSA offices only operate effectively when there are projects ongoing in their region to which they provide operational and logistical support. In addition, universities and NGOs support districts on a project basis.
Honduras Capacity support to municipalities is largely done on an ad hoc or project basis and not as part of a sector-wide, systematic programme. In addition, municipalities support each other and seek capacity through association in mancomunidades, associations of municipalities in a specific geographical area.
India There are block-level, mother Gram Panchayats (local government unit) that are used to support Gram Panchayats in need. This is also done via capacity building and exposure visits. Strong Gram Panchayat in each district act as key resource centres for other Gram Panchayats in the district.
Mozambique At a provincial level, the Department of Public Works and Housing is responsible for the capacity support role as well as coordination and supply chains, but it has limited capacity.
South Africa Provincial (deconcentrated) offices of the Department of Water Affairs play a technical capcity support role to water service authorities through a One-stop Shop, covering a range of technical, managerial, and administrative issues. It is well structured and systematic, with dedicated funding, to support local government.
Thailand Capacity support is given to the service authority by different government agencies at a national and regional level.
Uganda Ministry of Water and the Environment has deconcentrated representation at a regional level through Technical Support Units which provide support to district staff. These units have a regular programme of support, but with so many districts, this supply-driven approach mainly addresses the most underperforming districts.

Source: Smits et.al, 2011, 12

Example of expenditure on indirect support in India, Ghana and Mozambique

Based on WASHCost research, consolidated data on indirect support costs are difficult to obtain (Smits et.al, 2012). Table 2 (see below) presents the average per person per year indirect support expenditure for Ghana, India and Mozambique as collected by WASHCost. The expenditure on indirect support in table 2 is based on real levels of expenditure found in these three countries. They are not minimum benchmarks that can be used for costing sustainable basic services in developing countries.

Table 2. Expenditure on Indirect support per person per year in Ghana, India and Mozambique in USD (2011)

Cost category Ghana India Mozambique
Expenditure on Indirect Support (ExpIDS) 0.37 0.5 0.01

Source: Smits et.al, 2011, 33

Since exact data for indirect support expenditure in India were absent, the costs (see table 2 above) are estimated using some assumptions and expert opinion (Smits et.al, 2011). Mozambique included data from the Rural Water Department (Departamento de Água Rural, DAR) and the Sanitation Department (Departamento de Saneamento, DES). WASHCost Mozambique also analysed the costs of three other departments: the Division of Planning and Control (Gabinete de Planificação e Controlo, GPC), the Department of Administration and Finance (Departamento de Administração e Finanças, DAF) and the Directorate of Human Resources (Direcção de Recursos Humanos, DRH). Since these three departments do not only deal with rural and peri-urban areas, a coefficient was applied, taking into account the weight of the subsector population. Other weighting factors are still being considered and the result could be to lower the figure for indirect support expenditure in Mozambique.

Key documents

This working paper analyses existing literature on primary cost data from seven countries of providing direct and indirect support to rural water service provision. It provides an overview of the features such support entails, how those features can be organised, what they cost and how they can be financed. It also provides recommendations to countries for strengthening support.


  • WASHCost was five-year action research programme, running from 2008 to 2012. The WASHCost team gathered information related to the costs of providing water, sanitation, and hygiene services for an entire life-cycle of a service - from implementation all the way to post-construction. The WASHCost programme was led by IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre with several partners to collect data in the rural and peri-urban areas of Burkina Faso, Ghana, India, and Mozambique. For more information see WASHCost
  • The Costing Sustainable Services online course was developed to assist governments, NGOs, donors and individuals to plan and budget for sustainable and equitable WASH services, using a life-cycle cost approach. The Life-cycle cost approach is a methodology for costing sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene service delivery and comparing the costs to the level of service received by users. For more information see WASHCost Online Training
  • WASHCost data sets provide access to the validated life-cycle cost and service level information collected in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Andhra Pradesh (India), and Mozambique between 2009 2010. The data has been collated from a number of sources including infrastructure surveys, detailed household surveys and range of specific research undertaken with stakeholders in each country. The data sets are available here
  • Triple-S (Sustainable Services at Scale) is a six-year, multi-country learning initiative to improve water supply to the rural poor. It is led by IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre. The initiative is currently operating in Ghana and Uganda. Lessons learned from work in countries feeds up to the international level where Triple-S is promoting a re-appraisal of how development assistance to the rural water supply sector is designed and implemented. For more information see Water Services That Last