It is not easy to assess whether governments are meeting their policy commitments on water supply, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). It is also often difficult to find out how much governments are budgeting for these services. WASHwatch.org aims to help address this gap.
WASHwatch.org is an online platform for monitoring government commitments and financing in a collaborative way. The criteria for analysis are objective and transparent, and therefore comparable across countries.
WASHwatch will only be useful as its contributors make it. We have active contributors for about 20 countries but we need many more. Are you knowledgeable about water and sanitation in your country? If so, add a comment to your country’s page. If your country has no data, please register and then email firstname.lastname@example.org to be able to edit your country’s page.
In early 2008, many African Ministers signed the eThekwini declaration on sanitation, and the Sharm El-Sheikh declaration on water and sanitation. Ministers in South Asia have held several SACOSAN conferences on sanitation over the past few years, and each SACOSAN declaration has made specific commitments. There have also been commitments on water and sanitation in other regions, such as East Asia (EASAN).
Who is checking whether these governments are sticking to what they promised? There have been efforts to do this, but they have been sporadic and confined to short documents without much explanation. By taking these monitoring efforts online, WASHwatch.org can ensure that anyone can view it at any time, and that the analysis is up to date and transparent.
Many of the political declarations mentioned above contain commitments to increase the funds available for WASH, but it is hard to follow up whether this is being followed through. Some governments are doing as promised, but wading through the national budget can be a daunting task. They can be many hundreds of pages long, and confusing for even for a seasoned analyst. Even then, it is necessary to perform calculations to see if the WASH budget is changing as a proportion of overall government expenditure. In many countries, it is hard even to get hold of the budget data at all.
WASHwatch.org aims to get the key bits of information online in an accessible format, so anybody can understand it, download it, and communicate it. Figures are taken directly from the national budget so there can be no confusion about what is being counted.
No other initiative is directly monitoring governments’ political commitments on WASH, or publishing their budget allocations in a clear and simple way. There are however several initiatives which collect some similar data to WASHwatch, and the administrators are keen to avoid duplication. In particular, the Global Annual Assessment on Sanitation and Drinking Water (GLAAS) is a crucial element of the global sector architecture.
However, WASHwatch is complementary to GLAAS for two reasons. Firstly, GLAAS does not specifically monitor government commitments such as eThekwini. Secondly, GLAAS is ultimately based on a self-assessment questionnaire filled in by governments. Thirdly, GLAAS collects very detailed information and is aims to get an overview of sector status, whereas WASHwatch just looks at the basics and is focused on accountability. WASHwatch is fully supportive of the GLAAS initiative, and we encourage all users to visit their website.
WASHwatch.org is a collaborative initiative. All CSOs with knowledge of the WASH sector are invited to contribute information about their country. WASHwatch.org was set up by WaterAid but it aims to be a broad-based civil society initiative.
In late 2011 we will be reviewing the site and will be looking for more partners to get involved in the running of the site. If you want to be involved in the future development of WASHwatch, please email email@example.com.
Organisations that have contributed information include: