Monitoring SDG6 on water and sanitation

Human and financial resources

It is important to recognize the resource implications of monitoring and be realistic about what can be achieved with existing resources. Monitoring requires staff time, capacity-building and technical support, as well as infrastructure and its continual operation and maintenance. However, costs are expected to decrease over time as the process becomes institutionalized.

Monitoring requires staff time and successful monitoring depends on committed champions within the institutions involved. Photo credit: ILRI, Creative Commons Attribution

Lessons from the pilot process:

Most of the pilot countries stated that their monitoring activities would fall under the responsibility of existing staff, but noted the importance of allocating enough time and funding to accommodate the expanded scope of SDG 6. One pilot country identified its great human and logistical potential across sectors, but also identified that to realize this potential would require coordination and systematization.

Successful monitoring is directly dependent on committed champions within the institutions involved. One pilot country explained that the contributing experts cleared their busy schedules to make time for the project, because they found it so interesting and important.

The need for external technical support and capacity-building was noted, especially for the so-called “new” indicators on water resources, wastewater and ecosystems. National hydro-meteorological observation networks and the statistical capacity of both the National Statistical Offices and line ministries constitute the basic infrastructure for monitoring, and investment in these is paramount.

Examples of in-kind and financial support that countries may benefit from:

  • Water and sanitation utilities often collect data for management and regulatory purposes, which may be useful for monitoring at national level.
  • Universities and research institutes may gather data for research purposes and thus, may have data and monitoring infrastructure to share. They may also be able to support capacity-building.
  • National and international NGOs, as well as citizens science groups, may have rich data sets, e.g. on drinking- and ambient water quality or ecosystem health. They may also be able to complement national monitoring processes by operating additional sampling stations, improving both the spatial and temporal resolution of data.
  • Existing bilateral donors and development banks may collect data as part of their overall programming and may be encouraged to align with the SDG 6 global indicators.
  • Earmarking a small percentage of infrastructure investments for monitoring (nationally and internationally funded projects, grants and loans).
  • The business community may collect data related to their general operations for management and regulatory purposes, and may also conduct monitoring (or be encouraged to) as part of their corporate social responsibility.
  • Monitoring efforts in other sectors can offer synergies with water and sanitation monitoring, e.g. household surveys can be expanded to include more questions about water and sanitation; health records can provide indications on drinking water and sanitation; water smart metres can be installed with those for other types of basic infrastructure; Earth observations.