We monitor our programmatic work and support governments to monitor progress in providing clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene at global, national and organisational levels.  

Our vision is of a world where everyone, everywhere has safe and sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). To achieve this, we need an accurate picture of WASH service levels and hygiene behaviours across the world. 

Evidence from the WASH sector helps to inform policies, plans and investments that are aimed at increasing and sustaining services, making progress towards national targets and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Communities and civil society groups also use this evidence to hold duty bearers and WASH service providers to account and to campaign for improvements.

Any agency involved in providing WASH services – whether a private company, government body or a non-governmental organisation (NGO) like us – should be accountable for the quality and effectiveness of its work. That's why we also monitor our own performance and that of our partners.

We also campaign for greater transparency around how the WASH sector is funded and operated to ensure money is spent and improvements are made in the most effective and efficient way.

We support monitoring and accountability at three different levels:

  • Global
  • National and sub-national
  • Organisational

Global monitoring and accountability

We cannot reach everyone, everywhere in isolation. We must work with communities, governments, the private sector and other NGOs to ensure change on a massive scale. Together, we are accountable for progress towards universal access to WASH.

Monitoring at the global level helps governments to benchmark data, see progress over time, understand the impact of their policies, and evaluate how they compare with others based on globally accepted targets like the SDGs. It also makes it possible to hold them, donors and other service providers to account for their commitments.

Our vision is of an informed and accountable international community, working together to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene normal for everyone, everywhere by 2030.

Our approach

We work closely with the World Health Organization, UNICEF, UN-Water and the Sanitation and Water for All partnership to:

  • Support improved data collection and its use by participating in national data reconciliation processes. We join the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme working groups to identify how best to monitor progress towards the SDGs.
  • Advocate that promises are kept. We campaign for greater transparency in WASH sector funding and operations to ensure money is spent and improvements are made as efficiently as possible. We push for effective monitoring of the SDGs, to strengthen accountability for these commitments, and ensure they are met.

Kingsley Namafuka, a project accountability committee member, monitors construction work on the maternity wing of Siakasipa rural healthcentre in Kazungula district, Zambia.

Image: WaterAid/ Chileshe Chanda

National and sub-national monitoring and accountability

Governments and service providers need effective monitoring systems to monitor progress and make the necessary plans for service improvements. However, in the countries where we work, WASH-service level monitoring – including data collection, analysis and use – is often limited, due to a lack of resources, frameworks and coordination.

This means that service users and civil society groups cannot hold providers to account or call for improved access or service levels where they are lacking.

These challenges must be addressed to ensure everyone, everywhere has clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene by 2030. WASH monitoring systems also need to be robust, easy to use and affordable to update. Developments in information communication technology make it easier to collect, analyse, use and share information in many instances. But challenges remain around the costs of monitoring tools, encouraging them to be used, and the inconsistent use of data to make decisions.

Our approach

We help governments and service providers to develop, harmonise and use meaningful indicators that track WASH service levels and their sustainability.  

Often, multiple monitoring initiatives are underway within one country, with different organisations using different tools and approaches. We help to align these behind a common approach that governments agree on. We also support governments and work with others in the sector to address gaps and strengthen monitoring processes, particularly in relation to data-updating mechanisms and the use of data for planning, budgeting and management, to ensure sustainability. As part of our global strategy, we are supporting districts in 10 countries to collect baseline data using mWater – a free, web-based monitoring tool.

In addition, we:

  • Promote government-led WASH monitoring through modelling and advocacy  
  • Support the adoption of service level and sustainability indicators, adapted to local contexts where needed
  • Develop and demonstrate context-suitable and affordable data collection and process updates that can be sustained
  • Strengthen capacity for data collection and analysis using tools such as mWater
  • Support reporting processes, such as joint sector reviews
  • Support the use of data to inform planning and budgeting at national and district levels, e.g. with the development of district WASH investment plans
  • Identify suitable technologies for the successful and sustainable maintenance of data collection in each context

Organisational monitoring and accountability

Monitoring our work allows us to measure progress and check we are on track to reach our targets. We look at what is working and what needs to change for us to make a bigger difference. We report to our donors and supporters on work they have helped make possible, so they can see how their support contributes to real change.

We are accountable to the people we work with and the communities we support. Monitoring and evaluating our work lets them know if we are delivering on our commitments and taking responsibility for our actions in an inclusive and transparent way.

Our approach

Our national teams follow a set of minimum requirements related to the planning, monitoring, evaluation and reporting (PMER) of their programmes and projects. These PMER Core Procedures ensure a consistent approach, outlining the key processes needed to ensure we plan, monitor, evaluate and report on our work. They also support the Programme Accountability Framework, which defines the nine commitments we make to be accountable to our stakeholders. These are:

  • Effective, quality programmes and projects
  • Participation in the programme and project cycle
  • Nurturing collaboration and partnership
  • Efficiency, cost-effectiveness and value for money
  • Learning and continuous development
  • Listening and responding to feedback
  • Managing risks
  • Transparency
  • Managing human resources

The PMER cycle

Our national teams develop a five-year strategic plan, define the programmes through which the strategy will be delivered, and implement projects over time to deliver them. Four times a year, they reflect on their progress, identifying successes and challenges and, most importantly, make changes to their planned activities. This makes their work agile, adaptive and responsive to changes. These programme performance reflections are an important way of discussing progress with partners and stakeholders.

Post-implementation monitoring

Post-implementation monitoring is an internal process designed to assess the sustainability and effectiveness of our programmatic work. It highlights any challenges around a specific water point or sanitation facility and can trigger further studies into the causes of any issues raised. Surveys are used and designed to drive learning and adaption, so that we address areas of weakness in our overall approaches and target specific aspects of sustainability.

Every national team carries out a post-implementation monitoring survey during their five-year strategy to inform either the mid-term review or final evaluation. The findings help refine the design of future work.

Increasingly, we use mobile data collection to gather and analyse data This streamlines the monitoring process and provides better quality and reliably geo-located data with inbuilt validation. Data collection is centralised, enabling us to make better comparative analyses and allowing data to be more effectively shared, ensuring it can be used to make change happen.

Reviews and evaluations

Throughout a national strategy, there are opportunities for us to assess our progress. There is a mid-term review halfway through the strategy, and an evaluation at the end. These stages provide an opportunity to assess high-level progress, reflect on the appropriateness and effectiveness of our work, and inform our current and future plans. 

Latest resources and expert opinion

Top image: Government official Eni Andrade, 31, monitoringworks at Meripo Health Unit, in Cuamba District, Mozambique, October 2023.

Page last updated: May 2024