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Country-led and country-wide monitoring

Published on: 11/03/2014

Governments have to ensure sustainable water services for rural dwellers. 

Country-led and country-wide monitoring diagram

The Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness (2005), the Busan Partnership for Effective Co-operation ( 2011), the New Deal (2011) and the Dili Consensus of the g7+ (2013) all emphasize ownership of development priorities by developing countries themselves. By extension, the mechanisms to monitor, evaluate, and learn about development should also be led by the countries themselves. The term ‘country-led’ is used rather than government-led’ as it is considered to better reflect shared civil society, private sector, and government leadership roles in the process.

Ideally, country-led monitoring of water supplies in rural areas and small towns should systematically consolidate and analyse both quantitative and qualitative data about all water services in the country (or state or region). Monitoring should continue and evolve over decades, with the information generated used to support planning, decision making, and actions that improve service delivery over the long term. The information should inform the public. Conceptually, country-led monitoring is very different from funder-led and project-driven monitoring. These tend to be temporally and spatially piecemeal and are undertaken mainly for the foreign constituencies that provide aid rather than for the developing country’s citizens and institutions.


In practice, systematic country-led monitoring of rural water supplies in low- and middle-income countries is difficult. Firstly, the rural dwellers (who are usually poor) have little voice in the political landscape. Thus their demands are unheard and their needs are often overlooked by country elites. Accountability of service providers to rural citizens is generally very weak, particularly for water supplies that are essentially gifts to the community and end up being managed by volunteers. Despite the proliferation of mobile phone technology, the mechanisms for information flows relating to drinking water services as well as the priorities and plans of government or other service providers are lacking. There are relatively few incentives. On the whole, there is very little regulation of those who fund, construct, operate, or manage water supply services in rural areas.

Messy monitoring

Rural water supply supplies in many low- and middle-income countries benefit and suffer from a proliferation of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that tend to report only to their funders. Local governments have inadequate regular resources to visit and follow up communities. Unlike the health and agricultural sectors, rural water supply rarely has extension staff operating at community level. Even technicians and officers for water supply at district level may be few in number. Government staff may also face challenges with data analysis, or even simple tasks such as printing and photocopying materials. Rural water supply services in a given area tend to be provided by multiple projects, with the implementers all incentivised to report to their funders. Multiple reports with different information are rarely synthesized.

Nevertheless, there are examples where efforts are being made to develop systematic, country-led monitoring systems. In particular, there are encouraging examples of performance measurement, water services monitoring, and compliance monitoring. Several countries have recently undertaken baseline surveys and are using data from household surveys and activity reporting. Their experiences provide an insight into the realities of developing comprehensive and systematic country-led monitoring processes. This takes years, has no blueprint, and has no guarantees to deliver expected results in the short term.

The above text has been taken from:

Danert, K., 2015. Messy, varied, and growing : country-led monitoring of rural water supplies. In:  Schouten, T. & Smits, S. From infrastructure to services : trends in monitoring sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene services. Rugby, UK: IRC and Practical Action. P.39-61