From data to decisions

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Monitoring and accountability, Sustainability
Moustapha posing with a record book next to a rain gauge nearby his compound, showing us his volunteer work as a water monitor, in the village of Sablogo, in the Commune of Lalgaye, province of Koulpelogo, Region of Centre-East, Burkina Faso, January  ...
Image: WaterAid/ Basile Ouedraogo

Investments in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) monitoring systems are not yielding the transformative change promised. Even where data are collected, they are not necessarily being used to improve decision making.

Within the WASH sector, monitoring has traditionally been viewed as a technical concern. Little attention has been paid to the political and behavioural factors that determine how monitoring data are used.

Our guide From data to decisions draws on knowledge of evidence-informed decision making beyond the WASH sector to analyse case studies of monitoring systems in Nicaragua, Sierra Leone and Timor-Leste. Our starting point is the uses and users of data, in particular the political economy of decision making – that is, the institutions, incentives and ideas that shape the behaviour of key decision makers. To a lesser extent, we also draw on insights from behavioural science. The Overseas Development Institute carried out the research on which the report is based, on behalf of WaterAid.

Policy brief

The policy brief draws on insights from political economy and behavioural science to outline how governments and development partners can strengthen the use of data to achieve universal access to WASH services.

Download the brief to better understand why governments and development partners to strengthen sector monitoring programmes and incentivise greater data use, and our recommendations for doing so.

Planning guide

To support stakeholders to build a more critical understanding of the issues that affect use of WASH monitoring data in their own specific context, we have developed the Data use planning guide. In the guide we provide step-by-step guidance to support governments and development partners to apply the data use framework to new or existing monitoring programmes.

Download the planning guide to help you begin to design or re-design a user-centred WASH monitoring programme.

Synthesis report

To maximise the value and effectiveness of external investments in WASH monitoring, it is vital that stakeholders engage with these factors. To support this engagement, the synthesis report provides a step-by-step planning guide on how donors and other stakeholders can better understand the use of WASH data in decision making.

Download the guide to help design of monitoring systems that are user-centred and incentivise the use of data in decision making.


Read Senior Policy Analyst Stuart Kempster's blog discussing the challenges to data-informed policy making in WASH and introducing the guide.