To “transform our world”, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) adopted by governments aim to ensure no one is left behind: that everyone has the water and sanitation (SDG 6). Achieving this target requires accelerating progress dramatically and a shift to providing services instead of infrastructure. Solid data for costing, financing, planning, implementation, operation and maintenance of WASH services is needed. To get this data, we will need to transform the way we manage data in the WASH sector.
Recognizing the need for different data
Progress is being made to adjust the data we use to make decisions and to focus on the SDGs. JMP and GLAAS have been working on their indicator frameworks to evaluate progress towards the SDGs in each country. National governments are assessing the current situation and are starting to adjust their national monitoring and evaluation frameworks. Financiers, universities, businesses and NGOs are also innovating new business and service models to address the deficiencies of the paradigm of the last 15 years.
But data is stuck
Most organizations are working by themselves and their data remains in their own silo. National governments collect large-scale data for coverage figures. Businesses track and manage the services they provide using mobile-enabled water points and toilets for their own purposes. Local governments carrying the responsibility for water and sanitation services often have access to neither. Data sharing is now a slow manual process, including administrative barriers and requiring significant technical expertise.
Working together towards better use of data
More intensive learning and sharing is required to improve our use of data. Three steps are necessary towards better collaboration and transforming the use of WASH sector data in countries:
- Bring together sector stakeholders in a country. Include the innovators of new indicators and service delivery models to discuss how we use WASH data and identify the sector data needs.
- Research, develop and test minimum data, indicator and methodological standards in each country to guide the collection, use and sharing of data across organizations.
- Establish a national strategy for the use of WASH Data.
Some international and regional initiatives, such as WPDx for water point mappers, IATI for donors, IB-NET for urban utilities, SIASAR in several Latin American countries, and AMCOW in Africa show a very promising start as to what can be achieved when different sector stakeholders come together to discuss their data needs and develop a common standard. This is just a beginning.
WASHNote is led by Nicolas Dickinson. He has been
- Supporting the development of international and regional monitoring of WASH commitments and the enabling environment
- Advising country-led monitoring and evaluation of water and sanitation services at national and district/municipal levels
- Providing training for water and sanitation agencies on national monitoring and evaluation systems, decentralised data collection, data processing, and life-cycle costing.
- Evaluating mobile-enabled water, sanitation and energy services for the Mobiles for Development Utilities Innovation Fund as a Grant Panel member
- Supporting the commissioning and procurement of technology for governments and the WASH sector
- Developing data exchange and technology standards in water (WPDx) and energy (net-zero housing performance data API)
- Developing tools for life-cycle costing and financing for operators and NGOs and financiers such as multi-laterals and governments
- Providing data analysis for WASH and energy projects and programmes
Nick is an associate at IRC.
Read some of Nick’s blogs!
The WASHNote team is complemented by Felix Knipschild. He graduated in 2016 from Delft University of Technology and has been
- Compiling and analysing Water Point Data use cases to improve drinking water services, WADA/IRC
- Facilitating participatory assessments of local government WASH monitoring systems in Ethiopia, IRC/SDG alliance/MWA
- Advising on accelerating national and sub-national WASH monitoring for improved asset management and service delivery (WCARO), IRC/UNICEF
- Analysing information systems and monitoring & evaluation of small towns in Ethiopia (OneWASH Plus), IRC/UNICEF