WASH Governance: USAID Water and Development Technical Series


This brief is part of USAID 's Water and Development Technical Series, which provides guidance on important topics for developing and implementing water and sanitation activities in support of the U.S. Government Global Water Strategy and USAID’s plan under the strategy.

The purpose of this guidance note is to provide a common definition of governance for USAID’s engagement in the water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) and water resources management (WRM) sectors and to describe the process of analysis, strengthening, measuring, and reporting on improvements in WASH and WRM governance.


  • Governance is more than the government, writing policies, or conducting training. It encompasses a range of actors, systems, and processes.
  • Improving governance starts with system analysis and thoughtful partnership. WASH governance is complex, and all interventions should begin with identifying opportunities and constraints and then establishing or strengthening partnerships.
  • Improving governance involves using the right levers, structuring the right incentives, and strengthening formal and informal or customary institutions (government, civil society, and private sector) to promote transparency, participation, effectiveness, efficiency, and accountability in WASH service delivery and WRM.
  • Measuring governance improvements should focus on incremental changes in performance. Because governance systems are complex and changes happen slowly, monitoring systems should use multiple indicators and methods to capture progress.
Technical Brief
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13 pages