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Progress in sanitation monitoring among African countries

Published on: 29/05/2015

Since 2011, there have been efforts to track progress in the implementation of sanitation information and monitoring systems and tools in African countries. There has been some improvement not only in number of countries reporting progress, but also in terms of quality and presentation of data. 

Monitoring of sanitation is steadily improving in several African countries. Between 2011 and 2015, 11 countries are reported to have set up sanitation monitoring and evaluation systems and tools, while 19 are in the process of setting up the systems. This observation is based on eThikwini Commitment 8 – to develop and implement sanitation information monitoring systems and tools to track progress at local and national levels and to work with global and regional bodies to produce a regular regional report on Africa's sanitation status.

The Word Bank Water and Sanitation Programmer (WSP), has since been tracking progress on that commitment. Findings show that in 2011 only four countries had developed sanitation monitoring systems and tools to track progress at local and national levels. These included Senegal, Uganda, Ethiopia and Burkina Faso. As of 2015, the number had increased to 11 with new entrants including: Sudan (Khartoum), Kenya, Rwanda, Madagascar, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The level and quality of presentation of data has also improved with more countries monitoring progress beyond just toilets.

In the just concluded AfricaSan4 held in Senegal, IRC and WSUP hosted a session on Monitoring sanitation progress with a view to share experiences and lessons from some of the counties that had shown progress in setting up sanitation monitoring systems. The discussion specifically sought to highlight the ingredients for successful sanitation monitoring and to make recommendations on how to strengthen systems.

The sharing from Rwanda and Uganda revealed that key factors to successful sanitation monitoring include political will and commitment as well as a conducive and enabling policy and operational environment.

Specifically in Rwanda, the topmost political leadership is involved in monitoring of service delivery through performance contract locally known as Imihigo (translated as promise to deliver). These contracts are between the President of Rwanda and government service delivery agencies. The agencies set themselves targets on a number of governance, economic and social indicators and they are held accountable on those targets. The assessment of Imihigo is done by a team comprising members from the President's Office, Prime Minister's Office, Ministry of Local Government, and Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.This approach has been applied since 2006 and has resulted into the improvement of speed and quality of execution of government programmes. Specifically in sanitation the approach has seen improvement in coverage from 52% in 2000/1 to 75% in 2010/11 and over 90% in 2015.

In Uganda, successful sanitation monitoring has largely resulted from significant sector reforms which resulted into the development of clear national indicators for sanitation against which actors report on an annual basis. Additionally, the monitoring process involves actors from all levels (village, parish, sub county, district and national levels) and from all spheres (government, political leaders, development partners, civil society organisations and private sector actors).

Experiences from Zambia showed progress in terms of introducing innovations that enable the collection of real time data using mobile-to-web technologies; while in Tanzania the experiences were mostly about monitoring equity – who does not have access to sanitation and why?

The main gaps observed were: inadequate equity monitoring; lack of data on hygiene; and failure to share financial data from NGOs. It was generally agreed that countries with an enabling environment perform progressively in terms of sanitation monitoring.

Recommendations to further improve sanitation information monitoring systems and tools:

  1. Governments should increase financing for monitoring sanitation. Monitoring and evaluation should not be an afterthought
  2. Ensure feedback loops at all levels in order to encourage participation and track impact.
  3. Harmonise frameworks for monitoring and evaluation. Frameworks should be standardized, transparent and automated reflecting the common parameters being tracked. These should apply to both government and non-government actors.
  4. Accountability is key. Even with standardised and automated frameworks, actors should know that there are some repercussions if they fall short of expectations.
  5. Finance and equity: should be able to include these attributes on the monitoring and evaluation tools