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Published on: 06/06/2024

Since 2019, a transformative journey has been unfolding in three districts of the Amhara region - Dera, Farta, and North Mecha. IRC WASH, as a member of the Millennium Water Alliance (MWA) consortium and with generous funding from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, embarked on a mission to revolutionise the three districts' water systems through the Sustainable WASH Programme (SWP). At the heart of this endeavour is a crucial goal, supporting the monitoring of drinking water through management information system (MIS), a critical area identified as particularly fragile during the initial assessments.

To ensure the institutionalisation of the MIS, the development process was inclusive/participatory. A series of consultative workshops were conducted with the participation of WASH stakeholders from the three districts, North Gojjam and South Gonder Zones, and the region.

The first consultative workshop was conducted in October 2019. The main objectives of this workshop were to understand what the stakeholders want to achieve from strengthening the monitoring building block, information/data required at district, zone and region levels, and the process needed to keep the data up to date, good quality and accessible.  In this workshop, participants identified data and information needs at different administrative levels. Following this workshop, IRC WASH developed a guideline for strengthening the monitoring building block to serve as a road map. Additionally, a survey tool and mock visualisation dashboard were developed.

The second workshop was conducted in November 2020 and evaluated the extent of the data available & required to establish a monitoring system, provideed an overview of the monitoring tool, and demonstrated the draft survey tool and visualisation dashboard. In the third workshop conducted in February 2020, the different data set made available to the project team from district, zone and region was evaluated.

In May 2022, the team conducted the fourth workshop. There was a delay to conduct the fourth workshop because the COVID 19 outbreak restricted travel and meetings. The design of the survey tool and visualisation dashboard was completed during this period. In this workshop, training was provided to different groups of users. Provided training to data collectors on the use of survey tools and advanced training was provided to monitoring focal persons.

In addition to formal training, on-the-job support was provided twice. Accordingly, the first on-the-job support was provided in February 2023. This was focused on supporting focal persons and key management members on institutionalisation and handing over. The second on-the-job training was conducted in May 2023 to have a quick follow up on data analysis and use for decision making and to get feedback on user experience for refining the design of the survey tool and the visualisation dashboard.

Development of instruments for institutionalisation

In addition to the series of trainings, different documents were produced to strengthen the use of the MIS for the intended purpose. Accordingly, a monitoring and evaluation advocacy strategy was developed focusing on engaging stakeholders, articulating the benefits of robust monitoring, and fostering a commitment to invest in necessary resources and capacities. It also provides a roadmap for advocacy, identifying key messages, communication channels, and stakeholder engagement. To provide guidance and instruction on how to sustain the system, a sustainability strategy was also developed. The strategy includes the transfer of hardware, software, data, and experience from the project to the three SWP focus districts. Data use guideline and manual are other supportive documents developed. The objective of the data use guideline is to guide the use of monitoring data for decision making while the operation manual is a step-by-step guide for the operation of the MIS system.

Scaling to the regional context

Since the start of the monitoring initiative in 2019, the Amhara Region Water and Energy Bureau closely followed up the process. The bureau, called IRC WASH to learn about the three SWP woredas' progress and reviewed if the experience can be scaled to more than 100 woredas in the region. Recognising the piloted MIS system potential, woredas started advocating for the need of its implementation all over the region.  

Since 2022, IRC WASH provided technical support and capacity building to the region, funded by the Hilton Renewal Grant. One of the major areas of support for the region’s water and energy bureau was on establishing a comprehensive water asset monitoring system/MIS.  Therefore, the bureau established a focal team, the team conducted assessment on the regional monitoring system and developed a report to develop the MIS system based on the assessment findings. Additionally, the team developed costed water monitoring and evaluation plan, conducted data need assessment and validation with regional stakeholders, designed data collection system, and developed survey questions on an open source mWater platform. They also reviewed and validated the designed survey  and improved it based on feedback from the bureau’s staff, and the management.

The first-round training had been provided for 23 staff members of the bureau focusing on mWater surveyor app basics and data collection followed by an asset inventory plan for Bahir Dar city water facility componentsa.

Map of the water schemes functionality status, developed by the focal team

Looking ahead

To enhance the MIS's effectiveness and long-term impact, recommended actions include implementing regular data quality checks, developing standardised data integration protocols, and streamlining user management. Providing ongoing capacity development for users and raising awareness among staff about the MIS's importance are vital. Moreover, seeking external resources and partnerships for maintenance and expansion, establishing resource mobilisation partnerships, and advocating for budget allocation are important as lack of resources is one of the main challenges. Collaborating with local authorities to address security concerns, engaging regional authorities in planning, and implementing data security measures are also crucial steps needed. These measures collectively ensure accurate data maintenance, user efficiency, stakeholder engagement, and system integrity, thereby maximising the MIS utility in decision-making processes and governance enhancement.

 

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