Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) of the
Conrad N. Hilton Foundation WaSH Initiative

sponsored by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

This project, with support from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, developed a comprehensive framework for monitoring, evaluation, and learning for water projects in 7 countries between 2013 and 2017. This framework enabled Hilton partners for the first time to collect rigorous data on their progress and performance and systematically use these data to improve.

The Water Institute developed state of the art indicators to track performance, as well as robust smartphone surveys, mobile water quality testing kits, and practical field guides to support monitoring of these indicators.

Through the use of these indicators and tools, Hilton partners have identified critical opportunities to enhance the sustainability and impact of their WaSH programs and have taken quick action to accomplish these improvements. This work represents the first time cutting edge implementation science methods have been applied to WaSH programs. Other global WaSH implementers and funders have been inspired by Hilton foundation example to adopt similar MEL frameworks.

Water Institute Researchers and Staff

Jamie Bartram
Pete Kolsky
Rohit Ramaswamy
Kaida Liang
Mike Fisher
Ryan Cronk
Kate Shields
Shannan George


WaSH MEL Toolkit

We have crafted a collection of practical, adaptable, implementer-friendly tools for monitoring, evaluation, and evidence-based learning. Many organizations monitor their activities. Robust, fit-for-purpose monitoring requires asking the right questions, using validated methods, having an adequate sample size, and including internal quality checks to ensure data are accurate.

This toolkit includes all the components for organizations to include these essential elements in their monitoring programs. Many M&E programs don’t include all of the disparate elements that our toolkit contains. Adopting missing (or adapting existing) components may improve the quality of monitoring or help organizations learn and adapt their programming to improve impact.

This toolkit has been extensively implemented, replicated, and validated in over seven countries with a variety of multinational and local partners and implementers. Internal quality control checks suggest that teams quickly learn to collect credible data using these tools.

The documents below are designed to be self-explanatory and modular. We also offer regular online training courses if you need something a bit more hands-on. Contact us via email to set up online or face-to-face meetings to develop a customized monitoring, evaluation, and learning plan to best fit your needs.

Indicators and Surveys | Field-Level Water Quality Monitoring Kit | Operational Definitions | Methods for Randomly Selecting Households | Quality Assurance and Quality Control

Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) in WaSH Manual and Implementation Guide

“Monitoring and targeting the unserved: Can we? Should we? And how?.”Cronk, Ryan. 2013. Hilton MEL Convening, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA, October 14, 2013.

“Evaluating mobile survey tools (MSTs) for field-level monitoring and data collection: development of a novel evaluation framework, and application to MSTs for rural water and sanitation monitoring.”Fisher, Michael B., Benjamin H. Mann, Ryan D. Cronk, Katherine F. Shields, Tori L. Klug, and Rohit Ramaswamy. 2016. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 13(9), 840. doi:10.3390/ijerph13090840.

“Indicators for monitoring water, sanitation, and hygiene: a systematic review.” Schwemlein, Stefanie, Ryan Cronk, and Jamie Bartram. 2016. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 13(3), 333. doi:10.3390/ijerph13030333.

Distance Learning

Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning for Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene: Distance learning modules

The WaSH Performance Index Report

“The WASH Performance Index Report.” The Water Institute at UNC, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA.

“A comparison of country performance in realizing universal WaSH: The water, sanitation, and hygiene performance index.” Cronk, Ryan. 2015. WaSH Performance Index Launch Event, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA, May 8, 2015.

“Assessing progress towards public health, human rights, and international development goals using frontier analysis.” Luh, Jeanne, Ryan Cronk, and Jamie Bartram. 2016. PLoS ONE 11(1): e0147663. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0147663.

“Equity in Water and Sanitation: Developing an Index to Measure Progressive Realization of the Human Right.” Luh, Jeanne, Rachel Baum, and Jamie Bartram. 2013. International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health 216 (2013): 662–671. doi:10.1016/j.ijheh.2012.12.007.


Sharing stories and generating insights.” Conrad N. Hilton Foundation Water Convening, Oct 24-25, 2015, Carrboro, NC.

“WaSHMEL: Compendium of Best Practices and Lessons Learned.” Fisher, Michael B., Ryan Cronk, Allison Fechter, Pete Kolsky, Kaida Liang, Emily Madsen, and Shannan George. 2016. The Water Institute at UNC, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA.

“Assessment of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation’s Strategy for Sustainable Safe Water Access and Strategic Objectives: 2011-2015.” Fisher, Michael B., Ryan Cronk, Katherine F. Shields, and Kaida Liang. 2015. The Water Institute at UNC, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA.

“Understanding handpump sustainability: Determinants of rural water source functionality in the Greater Afram Plains region of Ghana.” Fisher, Michael B., Katherine F. Shields, Terence U. Chen, Elizabeth Christenson, Ryan D. Cronk, Hannah Leker, Destina Samani, Patrick Apoya, Alexandra Lutz, and Jamie Bartram. Accepted Article. 2015. Water Resouces Researchdoi: 10.1002/2014WR016770.

“Water quality in Ethiopia: learning from data.” Shields, Katherine F., A.J. Karon, Elizabeth Christenson, Argaw Ambelu, Kaida Liang, and Jamie Bartram. 2016. Water and Health: Where Science Meets Policy 2016, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA, October 13, 2016.

“Household stored water and communal source: the impact of geography on the determinants of microbial water quality in rural Ethiopia.”Shields, Katherine F., Elizabeth Christenson, Argaw Ambelu, Kaida Liang, Mussie Tezazu, and Jamie Bartram. 2015. Water and Health: Where Science Meets Policy 2015, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA, October 23, 2015.

View All Current Projects >