Why physical unique identifiers on water points will improve sustainable services

This blog is by Susan Davis, executive director of Improve International, an organization focused on promoting and facilitating independent evaluations of WASH programs to help the sector improve. She has more than 13 years of experience in international development and has evaluated WASH and other programs in 16 developing countries. Her first career (8 years in environmental consulting) involved projects like combining databases across the 10 US Environmental Protection Agency Regional offices, which is where her respect for unique identifiers was born. 

What is a unique identifier?

You probably don’t think of it, but you use unique identifiers every day. In the US, your social security number is your unique identifier for the government (which is why if someone has it they can steal your identity).  Your bank account number helps the bank track all information associated with you.

What is a physical unique identifier?

Well, your house has one – in the form of an address.  Your car has one – the vehicle identification number. The license plate might count but it is too easily removed.  My dog has an identification chip embedded between her shoulder blades because her license tag could easily come off with her collar.  A physical unique identifier needs to be permanent – long lasting in tough conditions, and not easily removed.
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FLOWing data

water services that last

By Patrick Moriarty –

I mentioned some cool new outputs from IRC’s Ghana programme in my previous post.  These factsheets  present a rich picture of water services and their governance based on a total survey in our three Triple-S  focus districts in Ghana.

The fact sheets aren’t cool due to their content – which is actually rather depressing.  What is cool is the technology used for the data collection, the way in which the indicators we used were developed, and the impact that the factsheets are having.

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Allocation of funds for district level WASH programmes: What is the ideal formula?

water services that last

By Lydia Mirembe and Deirdre Casella in Lira, Uganda  –

What started off as a commonplace lecture-like meeting in the Lira District Council Hall, ended up in a spirited discussion about a variety of issues around the delivery of water services in a decentralisation framework. Conditional grants for water and sanitation; mobile phones for water; as well as Hand Pump Mechanics Associations (HPMAs) were the key issues under consideration.

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What does it take to sustain sustainability?

water services that last

As argued several times in this blog, post-construction support is one of the keys to sustainability of rural water supplies. One element of post-construction support is monitoring of aspects such as service levels and the performance of service providers, through which the support providers can better target their assistance. The last few years have seen a boom in efforts to set up information and monitoring systems of rural water supplies in many countries. Some were in first instance a one-off mapping exercise of all water points in a country; others were developed with the aim of regular updating for ongoing monitoring purposes. Particularly, cellphone technology has been instrumental in speeding up this process, as it is used in systems like FLOW (Field Level Operations Watch). A key question that comes back in the discussions on the topic (see for example the excellent discussion on the Rural Water Supply Network’s

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Monitoring, learning and adaptation – important lessons from Uganda for development partners

water services that last

By Harold Lockwood  –  

Yesterday I read an excellent report on how the water sector in Uganda has managed to build a truly national monitoring system. The report is written by the Rural Water Supply Network – RWSN – and so naturally focuses on the rural sector as it looks back at the detailed steps in the development of a framework which has allowed the sector in Uganda to be able to learn about its own performance and take steps to improve how it functions. It really ‘tells the story’ of what it takes to build such a monitoring system and gives insight into one of the most comprehensive monitoring systems that I know of in sub-Saharan Africa.

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