Monitoring and service delivery indicators

Date: September 3, 2011

The MDG target is to reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. But many countries have little or no information on the sustainability or the status of rural water services.This 2011 briefing paper looks at current approaches to monitoring rural water supply. These often focus on coverage measured in terms of numbers of systems built and people served. But the reality is that many systems break down within a few years of installation due to lack of proper support for operations and maintenance and people who were counted as served are left without a reliable service.A baseline study conducted by Triple-S found that only eight of the 13 countries studied made any attempt to monitor sustainability. The study also found that where countries do monitor, it has enabled them to focus their efforts to improve sustainability, measure progress towards it, and take corrective action. This paper highlights that clearly elaborated sustainability indicators, with corresponding sector targets, are a key component in moving from a focus on expanding coverage to delivering a reliable, sustained and resilient service.In order to prevent this widespread problem, implementation of a monitoring system that is able to track the level of service over time and the performance of key technical,financial and management functions is essential so that problems can be anticipated and addressed. Good monitoring systems feed into local level planning and decision-making. They are realistically designed with existing resource constraints in mind and do not rely on short-term project funding.

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