Monitoring SDG6 on water and sanitation

Progressive monitoring

To enable Member States to begin monitoring efforts at a level in line with their national capacity and available resources, there is also a need for flexible methodologies, for which the concept of progressive monitoring steps is useful.

SDG 6 monitoring allows countries to begin monitoring at a level in line with their capacity and resource availability, and from there advance progressively. Photo credit: Steven Depolo, Creative Commons Attribution

Countries can start with simplified methods, for example, using qualitative estimations based on alternative data sources, or monitoring a limited set of parameters at a limited number of sites. As country capacity and resources increase over time, the scope of monitoring programmes can be expanded and more robust methods can be adopted, such as in situ measurements and metering, both of which improve data disaggregation.

Modelled data can fill the gaps in the short- and midterm. The same is true for Earth observations, which can be used for cost-effective monitoring of the extent and quality of ecosystems, land use and hydrology. Given that the spatial and temporal resolution of Earth observations is often continuous, this type of information is particularly useful for tracking environmental changes over time.

New sources of data

Data on water and sanitation are collected by a wide variety of stakeholders; thanks to their involvement in the national monitoring process, countries may see a large increase in the available data.

Furthermore, new technologies are rapidly improving the capacity to collect, store, analyse, report and share data, while reducing the costs involved. In addition to Earth observations, there are cell phone applications and geospatial data collection, through which data can be made available in real time for various uses via mobile-to-web applications. Such simplified and affordable technology facilitates the development of citizen science, which in turn can help bring monitoring to remote or resource-constrained settings and improve data disaggregation.

The use of new monitoring methodologies, such as Earth observations, can rapidly improve our knowledge about our water resources. Photo credit: Malik Naumann, Creative Commons Attribution