Bundling and Unbundling of Functions (RR)

Compiled by:
Doerte Peters (seecon international gmbh)

Executive Summary

The clear allocation of functions for the implementation of sustainable sanitation and water management is crucial for its outcomes. Overlapping functions and responsibilities lead to confusion, conflicts and thus to the slowdown of the process. Therefore, some existing functions and responsibilities might need to be bundled or unbundled to make sure they are well allocated and fixed in the sanitation and water management policies and in the legal framework. The goal of this factsheet is to describe how to bundle and unbundle functions and responsibilities on a local level, to make sure progress in sustainable sanitation and water management will thereby not be hampered.

Why to Bundle and Unbundle Functions

For implementing sustainable sanitation and water management on the local level, the allocation of functions and responsibilities between different institutional spheres and within organisations/institutions is crucial. A clear definition of roles and responsibilities of different stakeholders decreases overlapping and therefore increases the efficiency within a project. As bundling and unbundling of functions codetermines the success of the implementation of many interventions, it is one part of building an institutional framework to enable the environment for sustainable sanitation and water management (adapted from DFID 1998). When functions and responsibilities are not set out clearly, the progress of projects will be hampered and conflicts might appear between different stakeholders. (To avoid such conflicts see also stakeholder strategy plan).

 WSP (2009)

Too many cooks spoil the broth, if their functions and responsibilities are not clearly defined. Source: WSP (2009)

Expenditure assignment is usually shared among different levels of government, civil society, and the private sector (see also privatisation). The main question to answer is “Who does what?” (HERMANN et al. 2000). Therefore, different aspects need to be analysed: the separation between public and private functions, the relationship between central and local governments,the allocation of functions among municipalities with different capacity, as well as the function of the civil society and of the private sector.


How to Bundle and Unbundle Functions

The question “Who does what?” is not always easy to answer, and a lot of issues need to be taken into account to analyse which allocation of tasks and responsibilities is expedient. As an efficient allocation of functions depends on the capacity of different stakeholders, the financial background, the policies and legal framework and on socio cultural issues, there is no general best practice, but you will find some tips to find the best solution for your case of function allocation down below.

 

1. Make a Stakeholder Analysis

At first, all sanitation and water management stakeholders ― especially key stakeholders ― should be identified (see also stakeholder identification). Their links with each other are also important to know. Generally, a stakeholder is an agency, organisation, group or individual whose (COULBY 2009):

 

  • Interests are affected by an issue or project
  • Activities strongly affect an issue or project
  • Power, money, technical expertise or organisational profile gives control over relevant implementation instruments
  • Information, resources, experience or expertise is required for strategy or policy-making on an issue

 

As water and sanitation are both social goods (to which people have a right) and economic goods, three broad groupings need to be involved (adapted from MORIARTY et al. 2007):

 

 

Try to make a diagram like the one down below, where you write down all stakeholders and mark their connexions to each other.

 MORIARTY et al. (2007)

Stakeholders and their connexions to each other should be identified. Source: MORIARTY et al. (2007)

 

2. Create a Stakeholder Platform

Invite all relevant stakeholders (representatives of each group) to a stakeholder platform to discuss the question of the allocation of sanitation and water management functions. The platform needs time to develop; maybe regular over months or even years are needed.

 

3. Identify Actual Functions 

 WSP (2009)

It is important to find out about all actual functions of each stakeholder to see conflict potential. Source: WSP (2009)

Find out the actual functions and responsibilities of each stakeholder in sustainable sanitation and water management. Make a difference between the functions and responsibilities he really holds (legal framework, contracts, unwritten laws, etc.) and the functions he thinks he holds. Note that all functions and responsibilities that might overlap or lead to confusion or conflict. This part should be done within a stakeholder platform. (For more information: stakeholder importance and influence and venn diagrams).


The function analysis can be carried out in workshops and with the actors and tasks matrix: Each row of the matrix represents a different actor involved in sanitation and water management, while each column identifies a key task and role. The matrix is filled in based on discussions with stakeholders in workshops. Afterwards, the main overlaps and gaps in the matrix can be compared and completed with the results of other groups. Some guiding questions for the workshops can be found below (MORIARTY et al. 2007):

 WSP (2003)

Overlaps and gaps of tasks need to be identified for the bundling and unbundling of sanitation and water management functions. Source: WSP (2003)

 

  • Which tasks/ functions are performed by which actors?
  • What activities do the actors carry out in performing these tasks? How effective are they?
  • What gaps are there between tasks?
  • What overlaps are there between different actors/ tasks?
  • Is there a coordinated effort by actors to integrate their tasks?
  • What factors within the system have a positive or negative influence on task performance?
  • What information is held by which stakeholders that helps them to perform their tasks? Is it shared? If so, how?

 

4. Identify Actors’ Capacities

As the key actors need the capacity to fulfil their future function/s properly, it is important to find out about their capacity, expertise and weakness and also about their resources. The potential of each stakeholder should be discussed, which can be done in workshops. The results can be discussed with other groups after the workshops have been finished. Therefore, the identified capacities and weaknesses should be summarised on flip chart papers, with mindmapping or the like.

 

5. Propose Future Functions

After finding out about capacities and weaknesses of each actor, a possible allocation of the future functions and tasks should be proposed (see also visioning, brainstorming and SWOT analysis), in dependence on overlapping and gaps defined in step 3. Key questions for the control of the new allocation of functions might be (adapted from ENGEL and SALOMON 1997):

 

  • Do the proposed functions fall within the scope of the current activities of the actors?
  • Does a relative consensus exist concerning the need to intervene and the need to carry out the interventions proposed by the team and the participating actors?
  • Do the relevant key actors see the functions as being in their interest (see also stakeholder interests)
  • Whose perceived interests might be negatively affected by the new allocation of functions?
  • Which of the key actors share a need for the perceived interventions? If they work alone, could they make changes?
  • Do the relevant key actors have the resources needed to implement the proposed interventions (financial, human, knowledge base, leadership, organisational capacities)?
  • Which of the key actors has actually expressed willingness to implement some or all of the proposed interventions?

 

6. Implementation

After the steps 1-5 have been finished, the new functions need to be implemented by the stakeholders in the allocation proposed before. It is very helpful to fix the new allocation of functions in policies to avoid conflict potential. Also, the new allocation of functions should be monitored by all stakeholders, to find out about upcoming problems early.
 

Applicability

Bundling and unbundling of functions and tasks has a very wide applicability. It can always help avoiding overlaps and gaps of functions and responsibilities and is therefore especially helpful if conflicts about functions and responsibilities exist.

Advantages

  • Clear definition of functions
  • Avoiding inefficiency and conflict
  • Heightens transparency
  • Better use of expertise
  • Includes capacities of each stakeholder

Disadvantages

  • A stakeholder platform is necessary to find out about optimal function allocation
  • The discussion of functions and responsibilities might lead to conflicts

References Library

COULBY, H. (2009): A Guide to Multistakeholder Work. London: The Water Dialogues (Editor). URL [Accessed: 10.01.2010].

DFID (Editor) (1998): Guidance Manual on Water Supply and Sanitation Programmes. London: Water, Engineering and Development Centre (WEDC) for the Department for International Development (DFID). URL [Accessed: 04.01.2011].

ENGEL, P. ; SALOMON, M. L. (Editor) (1997): Facilitating Innovation for Development: A RAAKS Resource Box. Amsterdam: Royal Tropical Institute (KIT).

HERMANN, Z.; HORVATH, M.; PETERI, G.; UNGVARI, G. (2000): Allocation of Local Government Functions: Criteria and Conditions. The Fiscal Decentralization Initiative for Central and Eastern Europe (FDICEE). URL [Accessed: 10.01.2010].

MORIARTY, P.; BATCHELOR, C.; ABD-ALHADI, F.; LABAN, P.; FAHMY, H.; INWRDAM (Editor) (2007): The EMPOWERS Approach to Water Governance: Guidelines, Methods and Tools. pdf presentation. Amman, Jordan: Inter-Islamic Network on Water Resources Development and Management (INWRDAM). URL [Accessed: 18.03.2010].

WSP (Editor) (2003): Gap of Responsibilities. URL [Accessed: 11.01.2010].

WSP (Editor) (2009): Overlapping of Functions. URL [Accessed: 11.01.1010].

WSP (Editor) (2009): Too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth. URL [Accessed: 11.01.1010].

Further Readings Library

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DFID (Editor) (1998): Guidance Manual on Water Supply and Sanitation Programmes. London: Water, Engineering and Development Centre (WEDC) for the Department for International Development (DFID). URL [Accessed: 04.01.2011].

This manual has been prepared as a tool to help improve DFID's (Department for International Developments, United Kingdom) support for water supply and sanitation projects and programmes in developing countries. Its particular focus is on how DFID assistance can best meet the needs of the urban and rural poor for water supply and sanitation services.


Reference icon

MORIARTY, P.; BATCHELOR, C.; ABD-ALHADI, F.; LABAN, P.; FAHMY, H.; INWRDAM (Editor) (2007): The EMPOWERS Approach to Water Governance: Guidelines, Methods and Tools. pdf presentation. Amman, Jordan: Inter-Islamic Network on Water Resources Development and Management (INWRDAM). URL [Accessed: 18.03.2010].

The guideline provides information necessary to understand the EMPOWERS approach of water governance and explains in details how to use the approach for planning and implementation of water management and related issues.


Reference icon

MORIARTY, P.; BATCHELOR, C.; LABAN, P.; FAHMY, H.; INWRDAM (Editor) (2007): The EMPOWERS Approach to Water Governance: Background and Key Concepts. Amman, Jordan: Inter-Islamic Network on Water Resources Development and Management (INWRDAM). URL [Accessed: 18.03.2010].

The booklet provides an explanation of the conceptual background to the EMPOWERS approach to water governance and is a companion volume to the “EMPOWERS Approach to Water Governance: Guidelines, Methods and Tools”. It helps to develop a deeper understanding of the approach.


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WSSCC (Editor) (2005): Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion: Programming Guidance. Geneva: Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) and World Health Organisation. URL [Accessed: 08.06.2010].


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BEISHEIM, M (2013): Der Nexus Wasser-Energie-Nahrung. Wie mit vernetzten Versorgungsrisiken umgehen?. Berlin: Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP). URL [Accessed: 07.10.2013].

Vernetzte Versorgungsrisiken mit sektor- und grenzüberschreitenden Wechselwirkungen stellen für die Politik eine große Herausforderung dar. Ziel der vorliegenden Studie ist, die politische Dimension solcher Probleme zu erfassen und Bearbeitungsoptionen zu diskutieren. Denn häufig ist nicht die Verfügbarkeit einer Ressource oder der Mangel an Lösungsansätzen das zentrale Problem. Stattdessen fehlt es oft am politischen Willen, ein integriertes und langfristig nachhaltiges Management von Ressourcen und Risiken zielstrebig umzusetzen.

Language: German


Awareness Raising Material Library

Reference icon

WSP (Editor) (2009): Overlapping of Functions. URL [Accessed: 11.01.1010].


Reference icon

WSP (Editor) (2009): Too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth. URL [Accessed: 11.01.1010].


Training Material Library

Reference icon

COULBY, H. (2009): A Guide to Multistakeholder Work. London: The Water Dialogues (Editor). URL [Accessed: 10.01.2010].

With its practical approach, this guide is very helpful for multi-stakeholder work in the water and sanitation sector.


Important Weblinks

http://www.kit.nl/ [Accessed: 10.01.2010]

On this website, some practical documents on multi-stakeholder work can be found, including many ideas how to prepare a stakeholder analysis, platform etc.