Improving Monitoring Systems for MDG Targets in Africa

Currently there are over 335 million people in Africa who have no water supply and almost 770 million without sanitation[1]. The millennium development goals[2] (MDGs) are designed to halve the backlog in water supply and sanitation (WSS) services by 2015. To achieve a target of this magnitude – US$7 billion needed for sub-Saharan Africa alone – is ambitious, and to achieve it cost effectively even more so.  

At the first SIMS workshop held in Nairobi, Kenya in March 2007, more than 90 international delegates discussed the application of this monitoring approach. Recognizing that there is a shift away from fragmented project-based funding towards programmatic budget-based aid, the SIMS framework brings monitoring in line with the ‘sector-wide approach’ (SWAp) that many countries are implementing.  

Robert Gakubia, director of Water Services in the Kenya Ministry of Water and Irrigation, opened the workshop by saying, “Without proper monitoring strategies that document progress as well as shortfalls within the sector – and thus justify the use of scarce public funds – the water and sanitation sector faces a constant threat of marginalization in the scrabble for public funds.” He added that it was crucial to document how sector expenditure leads to physical outputs, “We must show whether our efforts lead to improvements in quality of services delivered, and improve the livelihoods and quality of lives of the citizens we serve. Moreover, we must be able to track whether progress benefits the poor as well as the rich, and can be found in urban as well as rural areas.”  

Kenya is one of the leading practitioners of SIMS. Its planning and monitoring efforts include a Sector Investment Plan and a Sector Information System as part of the framework for the new sector-wide approach. The country is also pioneering a Consumer Report Card process in its three largest cities, surveying consumer experience of water service quality in order to improve dialogue between consumers, service providers, and policy-makers. These efforts towards better monitoring have built confidence and started to produce results – the water sector budget has increased by 150 percent since the 2002/03 financial year.  

At the workshop useful lessons were shared by SIMS leaders such as Benin, Senegal and Uganda. Delegates learned about good practices such as ‘water point mapping’ in Malawi, and the use of computer-aided rural inventories in Ghana. ASIMS building-block framework was presented, which uses two types of monitoring (sector-strategic and sector- implementation) and includes strategies for institutionalization and dissemination. The three principles for an effective approach to SIMS were identified as: Inclusive, Integrated and Incremental (III).  

The SIMS workshop included representatives of the African Ministerial Council on Water Technical Advisory Committee, the Joint Monitoring Programme of UNICEF and WHO, and the organizing partners: the Government of Kenya, the African Water Facility and the Water and Sanitation Programme Africa Region (WSP-Africa)[3].  

Key outcomes will be presented to the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW), and taken forward with all African countries. They include: initiation of country action plans for SIMS; a commitment to provide input for more detailed SIMS guidelines; a commitment (led by the African Water Facility—AWF) to standardization at country level and at regional level; and identifying monitoring strategies for integrated water resource management (IWRM). WSP-Africa and AWF pledged to support country action plans with South-South learning and experience-sharing. 

[1] 2004 figures from the latest WHO figures and UNICEF’s Joint Monitoring Programme for WSS data on www.wssinfo.org

[2] Mehta, Fugelsnes and Virjee (2005) in “Financing the Millennium Development Goals for Water and Sanitation: What Will it Take? Water Resources Development, Vol. 21, No. 2, 239–252, June 2005    

[3]Delegates included senior officials from ministries of water, sanitation and finance and Africa region organizations, local and international specialists in SIMS, development partners, regulators, some utilities, and representatives from bureaus of statistics.

Contact Name: 
Thomas Fugelsnes
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