Success in the water and sanitation sector cannot be defined by only the number of boreholes drilled or toilets built. In addition to helping communities gain first-time access to improved water and sanitation services, USAID is focusing on building strong, self-reliant, systems to deliver services beyond the life of our projects. That not only means adapting our approach, but also expanding how we measure outcomes.
In 2017, the U.S. Government released its first-ever Global Water Strategy (GWS), which seeks to create a more water-secure world. To support this goal, USAID’s Water and Development Plan, issued concurrently with the GWS, aims to increase the availability and sustainable management of safe water and sanitation for the underserved and most vulnerable. The Plan commits to programming, monitoring, and reporting activities and outcomes across four development results (DRs) to advance the Agency goal:
USAID uses standard indicators to aggregate the Agency's work across all programs and report on outcomes. Previously, the focus was on reporting results for first time access to or improved service quality of water and sanitation services. During the last strategy period (2013–2018), 22.4 million people gained access to new or improved water services and 15.6 million people gained access to new or improved sanitation services. While the focus on delivering water and sanitation services remains core to our work, the Plan adds an emphasis on sustainability through the inclusion of DR1 and DR4. To better capture and report on achievements under these development results, USAID has developed three new standard indicators:
We encourage partners, in collaboration with their USAID counterparts, to begin using these indicators, as appropriate, to monitor their work. Gains in governance, finance, and water resources management are critical for our partner countries’ path to self-reliance in the water sector. We want to ensure that we are tracking the outcomes of our work in these critical areas in order to understand our progress toward a more self-reliant water sector and to report on milestones that are critical to achieving that goal. And while investments in these areas may not lead to direct access within the life of a USAID project, they are foundational to reaching the goal of universal and sustainable access to water and sanitation.
Detailed definitions and explanations of data sources for these and all water and sanitation standard indicators can be found here.
By Elizabeth Jordan and Oliver Subasinghe, USAID Water Office