Theme 1: SDG indicators (Thematic Discussion on Sustainable Development Goals)

  • ROA
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  • Rose Osinde Alabaster is a Water and Sanitation Governance Expert, currently the WASH programme Coordinator at WaterLex Geneva.
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Re: Theme 1: SDG indicators (Thematic Discussion on Sustainable Development Goals)

Thank you all for the the insightful contributions towards this theme so far!
I totally agree with KimAnderson on the discussion on linking the different goals and targets that contribute to sustainable sanitation ``if we invest in achieving high functional level on sanitation, it is possible to contribute to many of the SDG targets``. This is going to be even more relevant at country level since resource constraints are already a challenge in the WASH sector. This integrated indicators approach will indeed enable the WASH sectors identify new ways of collaboration to leverage resources and attract new investments to achieve the Target 6.2. We cannot underestimate the obvious linkages between health and environmental benefits enjoyed due to improved sanitation and hygiene – one needs to look at challenges faces by populations residing in densely populated informal settlements in developing countries, for instance.
This reinforces earlier points by Claudia on multi-purpose indicators being identified and Muench`s link between impacts of sustainable sanitation and health. There is indeed a plethora or research, surveys and tools that exist showing the socio-economic, health, and general well-being that are impacted by improved and sustainable sanitation approaches at different levels and for different groups/areas.
Yet, at country level, drawing these linkages in that integrated, multi-purpose indicator approach means: scrutiny of policies, mandates, coordinating roles and responsibilities of different sectors, explicit budget allocations to public and school sanitation, further profiling sanitation, developing holistic programming, reviewing guidelines among others. This is going to call for a lot of unified action not only from government sectors but also from partners in the way programming for sanitation is done. How the national planning to the actual realization of sustainable sanitation in Target 6.2. is going to be achieved is something that hasn’t yet been discussed.
I am looking forward to more response as we move towards closing this discussion! Thanks again for taking time to contribute.

Rose Osinde Alabaster – WASH Programme Coordinator
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Re: Theme 1: SDG indicators (Thematic Discussion on Sustainable Development Goals)

Dear all,

First of all, I would like to thank you all very much for taking your time to share your thoughts on these difficult and challenging issues, Before people start posting on Katrin's questions, I would like to address Kim's interesting post on the interlinkages between sustainable sanitation and a number of the other SDGs. I think the table that Kim posted shows in a very clear way how important sanitation and, more precisely, sustainable sanitation is for achieving a number of the other SDGs. Also, to my understanding, the formulation of SDG 6.3 and of the higher WASH SDGs does address at least some of the sustainability issues raised by Kim, albeit not as clearly as it ideally could have been. As I see it, organizations which want to work on sustainable sanitation issues will also have support/encouragement to do so through the lenses of the other SDGs mentioned in Kim’s post, and should definitely also stress the links that sustainable sanitation has with the fulfilment of these other SDGs, However, it would seem too complicated to me to generate indicators that cut across several SDGs – perhaps, instead, the linkages with these other SDGs might be better used in situations of advocacy with decision-makers, for example, rather than for actual monitoring purposes. It would be great to hear other opinions on this topic.

I’d also like to comment on Tim’s post regarding the fact that too much focus on "safely managed" sanitation could divert resources from the basic sanitation services which the world is still very much in need of. This issue is of great importance, as I think that there must be a strong focus on basic services during the implementation of the SDGs; nevertheless, those organizations working on the provision of basis services should also be encouraged to think strategically about the sustainability of the services, in such a way that the infrastructure will continue to provide services for the foreseeable future and, wherever possible, also contribute to those SDG goals mentioned by Kim in addition to the sanitation SDG itself.

With regard to the issue of the helminths, I think it was a great idea by Elisabeth to try and ask the authors for a comment. Unfortunately, I do not know them myself; does anybody else know the authors mentioned by Elisabeth and, if so, could they ask them to contribute to this discussion. I am not sure how easily the prevalence of helminth infection could be used as an indicator under the WASH SDG. If stool samples in health clinics were routinely screened for helminths, for example, a lack of their presence could depend on functioning sanitation (and related hygiene practice and water supply services), of course, but could also be a result of a deworming campaign in the area.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on all of the above – and/or on other related issues of interest. Thanks!

Martin Gambrill is a Lead Water and Sanitation Specialist at the World Bank
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  • ROA
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Re: Theme 1: SDG indicators (Thematic Discussion on Sustainable Development Goals)

Nelson Gomonda asked to help post the following on his behalf:

I fully agree with the Observations made by Rose and most of the recommendation prescribed in her response her merit some further consideration.
What I perceive will be the real challenge with the achievement of the targets specified for sanitation is the dynamics of monitoring at country level. All the monitoring efforts at the moment are placing more energy on impact level type of indicators but we can only realise change at government level if the monitoring process track the Inputs, Processes, Outputs, Outcomes, and of course at later stage the Impact.
Apart from placing focus on Baseline surveys and studies and studies monitoring processes will be futile exercises in the first three years into the implementation of SDGs because governments may not have started realising the much desired result of their effort at impact level. If we are to track progress, then it will be important to place focus on monitoring the means of implementation (policies, capacity, finances) which would mean tracking inputs, processes (activities), outputs and to some extent outcomes.
This simply means monitoring efforts in the first two years of implementing SDGs will require a set of indicators that probably are not being captured at the global levels are there is much emphasis on impact level indicators.
The following tries to shed some light on the type of indicators that are required for effect tracking of progress at various levels of implementation and monitoring.
Inputs: there is need to track the raw materials that provide a basis for intervention. Inputs can include money, technical expertise, relationships and personnel.
Activities/Processes: Example activities include tracking staff gaps and capacity required to deliver including equipment, construction works and facilities, commissioning various guidelines, and forms of technical assistance.
Outputs: the tangible and intangible products that result from processes/activities. Outputs may include personnel and gaps filled, experts trained.
Outcomes: the benefits that interventions are designed to deliver.
Impacts: the higher level goals and targets being achieved.
When I follow discussions on indicators, I feel there are the most important lower levels not being addressed.

Rose Osinde Alabaster – WASH Programme Coordinator
Senior Operations Desk Officer - International Secretariat
WaterLex │ WMO Building – 2nd Floor│ 7 bis avenue de la Paix │ 1202 Geneva, Switzerland
T: +41 (0) 22 907 36 46│ M: +41 (0)763 58 50 11 │ Skype: rosebaster1 │ www.waterlex.org
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  • Katrin
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Re: Theme 1: SDG indicators (Thematic Discussion on Sustainable Development Goals)

Dear all,

Thank you for sharing your experiences and raising questions on this discussion thread so far.

This is just a short notice that the official part of this discussion will end soon. Contributions published during the official part of the discussion will be included in the summary which will be published next week (further information to follow).

You will of course be able to continue the conversation after that point. However, if you would like your ideas and thoughts to be included in the official summary of our discussion, NOW is the time to hit the reply button! ;)

- Katrin

Dr. Katrin Dauenhauer
SuSanA Thematic Discussion Series Coordinator
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Re: Theme 1: SDG indicators (Thematic Discussion on Sustainable Development Goals)

Sorry for coming into the debate at the end. To answer Katrin's question on whether countries have the resources to implement the universal targets: this is the subject of a new World Bank study that will be published in the next 2 months which estimates the costs of the various WASH-related targets. Basic WASH is financially feasible based on historic spending patterns, although more is needed for sanitation and hygiene. Safely managed water and sanitation will cost a lot more than we have been spending in the sector globally, while there is very significant regional variation. Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia have the greatest resource challenges for meeting both basic and safely managed services. Hence we need to look more at financing mechanisms that enable access to the poor, we need to be aware and work on some major challenges beyond financing (behavior change, institutional capacity, sustainability...); and we need to focus on basic for all before we start spending valuable public resources and energy on the higher-level service for the already served or the better off. I could go on... but those are the main points.
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Re: Theme 1: SDG indicators (Thematic Discussion on Sustainable Development Goals)

Dear Colleagues,

Thank you very much for taking the time to contribute to this post. There have been some interesting discussions and I think many questions answered. Although the indicators have not yet been finalized and we still have a little more time, I think we have to ask ourselves if the targets have the correct words to enable us to include all we want to monitor. At the end of the day, if national governments find in useful and important to "unpack" the indicators further through further disaggregation or to include additional information. This may not be reported in a global monitoring instrument but will nethertheless find its way into national monitoring frameworks. Much of this could be monitored from community-based sources.

In terms of definition of what is adequate or equitable sanitation, a lot of discussions have been held with experts working on the SDG framework and linkages between the realization of this target and other targets in the other SDG goals. The discussions in this post have emphasized the fact that universal access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene is essential for the achievement of other targets proposed namely: Poverty (1.2.); nutrition (2.2); health (3.2, 3.3, 3.8, 3.9); education (4.1); gender 5.2); infrastructure (9.1); inequalities (10.2); human settlements (11.1). This means that adequate sanitation will have to encompass safe removal of excreta from human contact as well as safe disposal or treatment. This calls for a broad definition of hygiene beyond hand-washing.

Ending open defecation is also implied in the universal access to adequate and equitable sanitation.

The reference to women and girls implies among other things the physical access that provides privacy, security during use but mainly the aspect of adequately providing for menstrual hygiene management (which in has consideration for disposal). Overall hygiene is likely not to be realized without water!

If we look how far effective monitoring has come, considering for example the sanitation was not considered until the Jo`burg summit we have come a long way. There is a lot of opportunity to make similar advances over the next few years and advances both in monitoring tools and data platforms will no doubt be necessary to achieve this target.

Thank you again and all the best, let`s keep up the pressure!
Rose & Martin

Rose Osinde Alabaster – WASH Programme Coordinator
Senior Operations Desk Officer - International Secretariat
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Re: Theme 1: SDG indicators (Thematic Discussion on Sustainable Development Goals)

Dear Rose, dear Martin, dear discussion participants,

Thank you very much for your thoughtful contributions to our discussion on SDG indicators.

The official part of the discussion is hereby closed but you are of course welcome to continue to post in this thread.

Next week, I will provide a summary of the posts published up until now and will inform you here how to access it once it is available.

Best,
Katrin

Dr. Katrin Dauenhauer
SuSanA Thematic Discussion Series Coordinator
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Re: Summary available

Dear all,

Thank you for contributing to our topic and raising so many important issues with regard to the SDG indicators on sanitation.

The summary is now available here .

- Katrin

Dr. Katrin Dauenhauer
SuSanA Thematic Discussion Series Coordinator
Bonn, Germany
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