From data to decisions

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.

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 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.