Water Sanitation Health

Sanitation challenge: Turning commitment into reality

Monitoring progress

Sanitation and hygiene are challenges that will not go away overnight. Over time, new ideas and approaches will emerge and old ideas will be improved. Gradually, the balance will shift until good hygiene and access to sanitation become the accepted norm all over the world. For this to happen, it will be important to keep track of what is happening, monitor progress, explore how new ideas are impacting on access and evaluate whether things are really improving for households. While global estimates of coverage will remain important, local capacity to generate and use information will be a vital part of the monitoring effort.

What can we do?

National governments can finance monitoring systems at the local and national level; invest in training to build capacity for participatory monitoring and evaluation; ensure that sanitation and hygiene data are built into national systems of data collection; provide input and data to the WHO and UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme; use monitoring data to define priorities and improve national policies and practices; and actively support the use and dissemination of better information at local and national level.

District/local governments can invest in improved local monitoring and evaluation; be open and confident about information; work with communities and civil society to improve local data collection; and actively share information and data.

Communities and civil society can participate in better monitoring and evaluation; provide skills and support to public monitoring processes; recognise that many governments are unused to working with the public in participatory monitoring and evaluation, and support their learning process; actively publicise and make information available both to government and to communities; and, where public systems are not working, lobby for them to be improved, and provide alternative data if possible.

Households can participate in monitoring efforts by providing information to data collectors.

Entrepreneurs can invest in monitoring and evaluation services and skills and offer to subcontract and provide services; and supply information on products sold or services rendered within their communities.

International organisations can support better monitoring and evaluation; encourage training at the local level; monitor global trends; and promote coordination and partnership between social sector monitoring systems.

We’re inspired by…

At the end of the international drinking-water supply and sanitation decade (1981–1990), WHO and UNICEF established a Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation (JMP). JMP’s overall aim is to report globally on the status of water supply and sanitation and to support countries in improving their monitoring capacity to enable better planning and management at the country level. The JMP is the official arrangement within the United Nations system to produce information on the progress of achieving the Millennium Development Goals related to water supply and sanitation. Future efforts to improve the utility of monitoring data will incorporate triangulated data on access, latrine use, wastewater treatment, hygiene behaviours, expenditures in the sector and outcomes at the local level.

…the GEMS/Water programme
The GEMS/Water programme of UNEP, a global water quality monitoring and assessment programme, provides information on the state and trends of global inland water quality. The programme works with more than 100 partner countries and counterparts within and outside the United Nations system to build capacity in developing countries for collecting and managing information on water quality. GEMS/Water has recently broadened the scope of its data to cover parameters related to wastewater and sanitation, including metals, persistent organic pollutants, waterborne pathogens and micropollutants.

… civil society monitoring efforts all over the world
Throughout the world, civil society struggles to present the real picture of what is happening at the local level, confronted by often inflexible national or local systems of “official” reporting. These efforts should be recognised for what they are: solid support for empowerment and the right of all people to participate in a real process of local change.

Sources: JMP; GEMS/Water Programme