Water Currents: Water and Data

In Egypt, the Water and Development Alliance (WADA) works with the local water utility provider to deploy advanced GIS and mapping techniques to pinpoint leaks and predict repairs well in advance, leading to increased water delivery to residents. Photo credit: Nour Mamadouh/WADA

Water Currents is produced biweekly by USAID’s E3 Water Office. Each issue contains recent news and articles on water sector issues, partner and donor updates, latest sector research, and a special focus on one topic. Please provide your feedback and suggestions by contacting the waterteam@usaid.gov.

In this issue we focus on how the "data revolution" is changing the water and sanitation sector. An expanding array of local and global data sources are providing a more precise view of water access gaps and disparities. Tracking water and sanitation spending relative to funding needs is bringing greater attention to an under-resourced sector. Mobile phones are helping customers flag issues for water utilities and monitor water quality. Advances in collecting and sharing satellite data are helping communities build resilience to droughts and floods.

The global water sector has yet to fully tap the potential of data for advocacy, service delivery, resource management, financing, and more. New initiatives are seeking to spark innovation and shift the way the world looks at water, such as the Water Data Challengecompetition.

Below you will find recent research, sources, primers, and events related to water and data. This edition of Water Currents was curated with help from Water Point Data Exchange (WPDx) and the Water and Development Alliance.

Looking for a back issue of Water Currents? Check out the archive on Globalwaters.org.


Water Currents - In Focus

Monitoring Water Systems

Webinar: Promoting Harmonized Monitoring for the WASH SectorIRC and the World Bank, March 2018. Presents the Rural Water and Sanitation Information System (SIASAR) in Latin America as an example of harmonized monitoring for the WASH sector.

WASH Talk Podcast: National Monitoring SystemsIRC, February 2018. In this podcast, guests discuss national WASH service monitoring for improved services and attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) based on their experiences in Ghana and Liberia.

Risk Factors Associated with Rural Water Supply Failure: A 30-year Retrospective Study of Handpumps on the South Coast of KenyaScience of The Total Environment,January 2018. This study examined rural water systems along the coast of Kenya to determine the factors that influenced their failure. The paper recommends that post-construction support for these rural water systems be bolstered to ensure sustainability.

Factors Influencing Water System Functionality in Nigeria and Tanzania: A Regression and Bayesian Network Analysis. Environmental Science and Technology, August 2017. Monitoring data were analyzed to explore factors influencing the functionality of more than 82,500 water systems in Nigeria and Tanzania.

Data Standards & Indicators

The Need for a Standard Approach to Assessing the Functionality of Rural Community Water Supplies. Hydrogeology Journal, January 2018. Communal groundwater is the main source of improved water supply for many rural areas in Africa and South Asia. It is, therefore, a priority to better understand the poor functionality of existing communal supplies.

Water Point Data Exchange StandardWPDx. This data standard was designed by a wide range of stakeholders to ensure organizations can share the data they are already collecting in a central clearinghouse of rural water points.

WASH Indicators for U.S. Foreign AssistanceGlobalwaters.org. In 2016, USAID and the Department of State redesigned their standard performance indicators for WASH foreign assistance programs to better align with with the  SDGs for water and sanitationand global monitoring efforts.

Rural Water Metrics Global FrameworkWorld Bank Group/Water Global Practice, August 2017. This study presents 24 possible key indicators for monitoring the sustainability of rural water and sanitation services and proposes further validation and dissemination with regional and global partners.

Data Aggregation & Coordination

Harnessing Water Point Data for Improved Services. WASHNote and IRC Uganda, 2017. This paper provides an overview of how water point data can be used more effectively to measure services and water resources, strengthen the enabling environment, and improve coordination.

How Network Analysis Can Forge a Stronger Sanitation SectorGlobalwaters.org, January 2018In Cambodia, fragmentation of the sanitation sector is holding back progress. In this blog, learn how the sector is using network analysis to map out the various public, private, and civil society organizations with help from USAID’s Sustainable WASH Systems partnership.

Webinar: Putting Data to Work for Improved Water ServicesWADA, January 2018. In this webinar, Applied Predictive Technologies shared findings from its data dive of the WPDx dataset, along with recent research on harnessing water point data to improve drinking water services.

UN-Hosted SDG Insights CompetitionUN/United Ideas, December 2017. To gain insights into the status and progress of the SDGs, the UN—through their Unite Ideas program—held a competition to combine household survey data with other geo-referenced datasets.

Data Management

Giving Data a Soul: A Case Study on Use of Water Point Data in UgandaIRC, March 2018. The Ugandan WASH sector is an excellent example of sharing and using water point data. The government and NGOs in Uganda have published data for more than 110,000 water points on WPDx.

Data Management Blog Series. Digital@DAIAugust 2017. DAI’s blog on “digital for development” includes a series of posts that provide a practitioner's view on how development organizations plan, collect, and learn from data.

Creating a Data CultureStanford Social Innovation Review, March 2018. The author of this post draws on her research to explain how nonprofit organizations can do a better job with their data.  

Real-Time Data in International Development. USAID and FHI360, March 2018. Real-time data can make international development programs more adaptive and effective. A new guide provides tips on applying it to development work.

Data Resources

WASHData.org  Home of the WHO’s and UNICEF’s Joint Monitoring Programme data, this site provides data on water, sanitation, and hygiene access rates and disparities for more than 100 nations.

UN Water Global Analysis and Assessment of Water and Sanitation (GLAAS) 2017 Report –  GLAAS 2017 presents reliable and up-to-date data from 75 countries and 25 external donors agencies on financing universal access to water and sanitation.

Water Point Data Exchange (WPDx) – WPDx is the global platform for sharing water point data and brings together diverse data sets from NGOs, aid donors, and governments.

Water Data Portal – The International Water Management Institute provides this portal as a source of data, maps, and drought monitoring tools.

AQUASTAT – The UN Food and Agriculture Organization developed this global water information system to collect, analyze, and disseminate data and information by country on water resources, water uses, and agricultural water management.

Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas – Developed by the World Resources Institute, this dataset and tool includes indicators of water quantity, variability, quality, public awareness of water issues, access to water, and ecosystem vulnerability.

Monitoring the Improvement of Water Security – Part six of this toolkit series from USAID Sustainable Water Partnership explores monitoring within the context of water security.

Data.gov – This clearinghouse for open data produced by the U.S. Government includes water and sanitation datasets for U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation country compacts and USAID WASH programs.


May 8–10 (Lusaka, Zambia): ICT for Development (ICT4D) Conference. The 10th ICT4D Conference brings together members of the international development community to learn how innovations in technology can increase the impact of their work.

June 25–29 (Spiez, Switzerland): Aguasan Workshop. The 2018 theme for Aguasan’s annual workshop is “Leveraging the Data Revolution: Informed Decision-Making for Better Water and Sanitation Management.”

August 1–2 (Johannesburg) and September 6–7 (Washington, DC): MERL Tech Conferences. Learn about how digital data, new media, and information technologies are changing monitoring, evaluation, research and learning (MERL).

If you would like to feature your organization's materials or suggest other content for upcoming issues of Water Currents, please send them to Dan Campbell, Knowledge Creation/WASH Specialist, at dcampbell@waterckm.com.



Water Currents
Publication Date
Produced By
USAID Bureau for Economic Growth, Education and Environment (E3) Water Office
Related Countries