Looking back to move forward in strength: monitoring of water system sustainability


  • Kate Fogelberg


water, sanitation, development projects, monitoring


The emphasis in the water and sanitation sector is on new boreholes, taps, and toilets, but what about those implemented last year, five years ago, and ten years ago? If the sector is to come close to meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), not only do all of the new water points have to functioning and sanitation facilities being used, but so do all of the previously installed ones. In order to know if these facilities not only still function, but if people are managing them in hygienic ways, Water For People and its local partners have developed an annual monitoring protocol to systematically collect sustainability information and make programmatic adjustments where needed. Water For People defines monitoring as ‘the continuous and systematic annual assessment of program/project progress against set targets designed to improve project performance’. Although frequently recommended for the success of sustainable development efforts, monitoring activities have not been prioritized by international development organizations. Constraints to monitoring after an intervention has been completed include finance, time, human resources, cumbersome methodologies that are not replicable, an organization’s unwillingness to admit weaknesses or challenges, and prioritization of new projects. This paper will describe the methodology, results across several regions of the world, and highlight programmatic changes that have been made as a result of the systematic collection of sustainability information.