Interview with Alexander Fischer from Oxford University

Date of interview: 2017/06/07

During the development of the white paper “Harnessing Water Point Data to Improve Drinking Water Services”, WASHNote spoke to Alexander Fischer, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Oxford, at the time researching drinking water security, application of geospatial information systems, and sustainable resource governance. Complementary to the use of national water point atlases, the local context of the data matters.

“I’m interested in the characteristics and elements of the institutional change, specifically around the value of water point data in this process. I hope to find ways to enhance the scope and use of standardized water point data across multiple scales of decisionmakers, including local level service enterprises. In most regions of Bangladesh, for instance, water quality and specifically arsenic testing of tubewells, is a critical variable for drillers, users, and regulators whereas non-functionality rates are comparatively lower and secondary water points in close proximity.”

 

 

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Interview with John Feighery from mWater

Date of interview: 2017/06/02

Several organizations have specialized in the creation of water point mapping and monitoring tools, because of the need of governments, donors, researchers, NGOs and the private sector to collect and assess water point functionality. The focus on the collection and dissemination of functionality data has been a double-edged sword. While the access to data and functionality statistics has improved, water point data are not often combined with a strong understanding of how to use the data to move beyond assessing the performance of infrastructure to improving the performance of services delivered. Local government and service providers require more information than functionality on the actual services delivered to fulfill their roles in the provision and support of water services.

In June 2017, WASHNote spoke to John Feighery, Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer at mWater, about the role of water point mapping and monitoring tools. In his eyes, the mismatch between data collection and data use is partly due to the way most donors have approached water point mapping.

“Donors need projects. For instance, we need an app or website for a country. We map all the water points, we check their functionality and visualize it on a map. After this magic happens: the project is done and we mapped all the water points. We experience a lack of responsibility for bespoke applications of the data. The focus is on getting the map, rather than on involving the people that will actually use the data.”

Moving from project-based monitoring of functionality to bespoke monitoring applications with the specific aim to improve a service is one of the great challenges.

“Organisations need to act more like businesses: constantly monitoring data. Many NGOs now can not tell you how many people they have reached in the last month. That will change. If we can harvest that data we can perform M&E in a new way.”

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