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Published on: 30/10/2013

The Hague – Using mobile phone technology and web-based applications is a new way to plan for and monitor the sustainability of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services in developing countries.

The WASHCost Calculator is one of these tools. It’s an app designed to enable water professionals to quickly analyse the life-cycle costs of their water and sanitation services. It runs financial checks, calculates service levels and value-for-money, and evaluates services using life-cycle costs. The database is dynamically updated as users enter data, growing smarter with each additional project.

As a knowledge-focused NGO with its headquarters in The Netherlands, IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre is working with a worldwide network of partner organisations to achieve equitable and sustainable WASH services. For IRC, innovative technologies and approaches must go hand in hand with practical application at scale. And that’s why it developed the second tool: SMARTerWASH.

With a pilot launched in Ghana, this new model for district-wide rural water service monitoring is now monitoring 64 districts, nearly one third of the country. SMARTerWASH enables affordable managing of water points across the country with accurate data that is easy to gather and share. The District Monitoring and Evaluation System (DiMES) analyses and collects data against sector guidelines. Mobile phone software (Akvo FLOW) is used for collecting and visualizing geo-referenced data. At the same time, the Ghanaian private company SkyFox set up an SMS alert system to monitor the services and strengthen customer relationships. IRC and Ghana’s Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) are partnering in this new public-private partnership, and the results are encouraging. By using smart phones and other new technologies, SMARTerWASH is shifting the sector’s focus from constructing new infrastructure to delivering WASH services that last.

It can be challenging to assess if a WASH technology really has the potential to be scaled up. That’s where IRC’s third tool comes in; the Technology Applicability Framework (TAF). Using 18 indicators, TAF is a decision-support tool that helps to assess if a specific WASH technology is applicable in a certain context. The indicators consider different aspects of sustainability and the perspectives of technology users, technology producers and the regulator, facilitator, or funder. It helps ensure that inappropriate technologies are not implemented; instead, technologies that are likely to perform well against a range of criteria are piloted and scaled up.

Monitoring both qualitative and quantitative change is extremely important, but at the same time a challenging task in large-scale WASH-programmes. So IRC developed a participatory method for monitoring qualitative change over time: the Qualitative Information System (QIS). It was developed to capture the outcomes of an intervention, such as behavioural and institutional change. In Bangladesh, IRC has collaborated as knowledge partner of BRAC to tailor QIS for use in the BRAC WASH Programme. This programme targets approximately 50 million people, and QIS allows for comparison of outcomes across areas and groups (such as very poor and less poor) – outcomes in terms of sanitation and hygiene behaviours, management and sanitation marketing.

About IRC

IRC is a knowledge-focused NGO and think-tank based in The Netherlands that works with a worldwide network of partner organisations to achieve equitable and sustainable WASH services. Its roots are in advocacy, knowledge management and capacity building. IRC conducts activities on a global level and is active in countries such as Burkina Faso, Ghana, Honduras, India, Mozambique and Uganda.

Further information

These four tools for monitoring and action will be presented at Aquatech Amsterdam, the largest leading trade show in Europe solely dedicated to water. Aquatech is part of the International Water Week Amsterdam 2013 that takes place from 4-8 November 2013. (IRC: Hall 6- 7, stand 07.422L)

For more information, please contact Carmen da Silva Wells:

Tel: +31 70 304 4008 / Mob: +31 6 460 987 03

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