A Decision-Making Support Tool for Water and Sanitation Projects in Low-Resource Settings

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Over 884 million people around the world lack access to clean water and 2.1 billion lack access to sanitation primarily in low-resource settings. The result is over 2 million preventable deaths each year. The international community’s response is water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) initiatives aimed at alleviating these pressing issues. However, despite tremendous investment, WASH projects and interventions have encountered startling high failure rates over the past several decades. Studies show that on average, projects fail at a rate of 35% in the developing world and in some settings failure rates can range as high as 80%. Research indicates many causes for these failure rates and one of the key problems is poor decision-making when selecting technologies and programs for implementation. Better technology choice is known to improve the sustainability of WASH projects. Further, monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of projects helps to ensure that projects remain sustainable and continue to function over time. The main objectives of this project are to (1) compile best practices on the selection of appropriate technology and investigate the determinants of WASH project sustainability through a systematic literature review, (2) develop a decision-making support tool (DST) that will help project implementers make informed and empowered selections of appropriate and sustainable WASH technologies for communities and (3) evaluate the DST’s effectiveness through pilot testing.


Water Institute Researchers
Jamie Bartram
Ryan Cronk
Jordan Deuink
Ben Foster
Stefanie Schwemlein