Proposed Core WaSH MEL Indicators: Monitoring for Continuous Program Quality Improvement.

The objective of the Hilton Foundation’s WaSH monitoring, evaluation, and learning project (WaSH MEL) is continuous quality improvement of Hilton-funded WaSH projects to improve project outcomes and efficiency. Quality improvement is essential for optimizing service delivery in a changing WaSH landscape, and accurate, timely information is the force that drives practical quality improvement actions. This includes information about the functionality of WaSH systems, as well as their reliability and sustainability, the ability of users to access these services, and the safety and quantity of water that users collect. In order to identify quality improvement opportunities and track program impacts across projects, countries, and the Hilton Foundation’s WaSH portfolio, it is necessary to collect this information using a harmonized set of core indicators, such as those proposed in this document. Following a comment and discussion period, a core set of indicators will be finalized and piloted by partners who will then be in a position to immediately engage in quality improvement activities in partnership with the Water Institute team, fueled by the resulting data. In addition, these data will allow partners to better track the impact of their projects, and will allow the Hilton Foundation to assess the aggregate impact of WaSH programs across its portfolio.

The Hilton Foundation’s strategy focuses on delivering sustainable safe water to users, with an emphasis on reaching the poorest of the poor. In order to maximize the impact of its WaSH program, the Hilton Foundation has sought to invest in the most effective and efficient organizations working on implementing WaSH programs, as well as on knowledge, learning, and enabling environment (KLEE) activities that promote WaSH implementation. Because the WaSH landscape is changing rapidly, and because the easiest-to-reach populations have already been served in many developing country settings, it is critical for Hilton’s WaSH partners to continue to refine and improve their programs in order to continue to achieve the greatest possible impact in terms of health, social, and economic outcomes for the greatest possible number of program beneficiaries.

The WaSH MEL project seeks to support Hilton’s WaSH partners in continuously improving project outcomes and efficiencies. This quality improvement process is driven by frequent, small adjustments to program targeting and implementation, based on timely and practical information about the performance and impact of WaSH projects. In order to collect this information in a way that is comparable across projects, and that allows the Hilton Foundation to track the impact and efficiency of its overall portfolio, it is useful for partners to adopt a harmonized set of core indicators for WaSH project monitoring. This framework should allow Hilton WaSH Partners to answer key questions about WaSH service delivery throughout the life of their projects.

Once partners have collected indicator data, these data will be used to launch immediate quality improvement opportunities. If data show that levels of WaSH management committee activity are low, quality improvement projects may focus on reactivating dormant committees. If monitoring shows that committees are active but unable to repair water point failures, efforts may target retraining these committees or providing them with spare parts and tools. Finally, if data show that most water points are producing safe water, but household water quality is frequently impaired, quality improvement efforts may focus on household safe water storage and/or treatment. These examples are meant to illustrate the ways in which monitoring the right indicators can fuel immediate program quality improvement opportunities. The Water Institute team will work with Hilton Foundation partners to set such improvement projects in motion, and will also seek to facilitate cross-partner collaborations for quality improvement.

Proposed Core WaSH MEL Indicators: Monitoring for Continuous Program Quality Improvement. M. B. Fisher, R. Bain, P. Kolsky, R. Ramaswamy, K. Liang, R. Cronk, J. Bartram. 2013. The Water Institute at UNC, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.