Theme 3: Civil society's role in monitoring (Thematic Discussion on Sustainable Development Goals)

  • Katrin
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Theme 3: Civil society's role in monitoring (Thematic Discussion on Sustainable Development Goals)




Thematic discussion: Sustainable Development Goals - enough to end the sanitation crisis?
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Running for two weeks from Tuesday 1 September to Monday 14 September on the SuSanA online discussion forum, the discussion will look at a number of key issues relating to sanitation in the SDGs and within the post-2015 development agenda.
In this discussion thread, the focus will be on
Theme III: Civil society's role in monitoring
and the following guiding questions:

How can civil society contribute to the monitoring of the goals and targets? What will our role need to be to ensure improvements for all?
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Starting this coming Tuesday, September 1, please join us for this discussion with discussion leads
Graham Alabaster, Programme Manager: United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT)

and

Hanna Woodburn: Global Public Private Partnership for Handwashing

Dr. Katrin Dauenhauer
SuSanA Thematic Discussion Series Coordinator
Bonn, Germany
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  • alabasterg
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Re: Theme III: Civil society's role in monitoring (Thematic Discussion on Sustainable Development Goals)

Dear Colleagues

We are now at a critical and exciting period in global development with the imminent adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals. We have seen the impact of the MDGs and how they did envoke political will. We also know that good monitoring is key to track the goals, so as the most needy can be helped and supported. The SDGs are different in that they now include all nations, also calling on the most developed regions of the world to also take a critical look at how there policies and actions are negatively affecting the planet.

Although many of the SDGs have an impact on and are impacted by water, we are close to securing water its very own SDG, this is itself a significant achievement. There are many of us who have been working on monitoring development goals for a while and we have been blessed with the WHO/UNICEF JMP, which has served the sector well and provides a great example. As JMP develops and additional monitoring initiatives are developed, the need to work in harmony and avoid duplication is critical. So partnerships in monitoring are called for so everyone is reading from the same song sheet !

For goal 6 the sanitation parts, 6.2 and 6.3 have been developed. Because of the call to reduce the total number of SDGs some parts of the target risk not being properly monitored. The critical issues which must be considered include:

The parts of 6.2 related to hygiene
The parts of 6.3 related to waste-water and its reuse

An generally the overall need to address the rights to water and sanitation, and
the need to be able to identify the poorest and so serve them first

Monitoring is not for free it will require investments from mainly governments but also some technical assistance. The main driver for monitoring will be to have a complete picture of the whole water sector to enable better decision making. The implementation of good monitoring frameworks will need to be driven by national governments and ownership is critical. The idea that governments become progressively engaged is good. So where will all the resources come from ? The answer (PARTLY) will lie on making the best use of community- sourced data and seeing how it can effectively be combined with more traditional forms of data collection to link the pieces of the jigsaw. Communities can thus play a key role in both ensuring the details of the indicators are not forgotten AND in seeing how they can contribute to measuring.

One other concept which i want to mention is the concept of "monitoring ladders" If a complex indicator is very difficult to measure, it is better that countries start to measure a few parameters and PROGRESSIVELY advance up the ladder. Water Quality (the second part of 6.3) is a good example. If you only have resources to measure 1 or 2 parameters start with that Perhaps measuring E.Coli (for health) and Nitrate (to indicate agricultural pollution) is a good starting point.

There are of course other opportunities for using earth observations and other sources of data to also contribute ! For example, eutrophication can now be remotely sensed. It can often provide clues where pollution is coming from and where to focus limited monitoring resources.

Anyhow I have said enough and look forward to your ideas and comments !

Dr Graham Alabaster
Chief Waste Management & Sanitation
Urban Basic Services Branch
United Nations Human Settlements Programme
Geneva Office

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  • joeturner
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Re: Theme III: Civil society's role in monitoring (Thematic Discussion on Sustainable Development Goals)

This is interesting, but will it not inevitably mean that the "easy" indicators are prioritised over the (arguably) more meaningful ones?

Won't everyone be counting latrines, the numbers of OD villages and so on, focussing on the relatively meaningless (eg counting E.coli in "treated" faeces) etc?
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  • alabasterg
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Re: Theme III: Civil society's role in monitoring (Thematic Discussion on Sustainable Development Goals)

Dear Joe, thanks for your post. I think we need both sorts of monitoring, a combination of community collected information and data, which can easily be updated live to web-based platforms together with more formal monitoring. Communities for example can readily give feedback on poor water quality especially if it affects their livelihoods. I have also seen low-cost test methods which can easily be used by communities to measure water quality at the point of use. This enables feedback to local authority officers, who can often assist. The key issue really is getting "official" country institutions to more readily accept such data. Somethign we are planning to work on i nthe coming months.

Dr Graham Alabaster
Chief Waste Management & Sanitation
Urban Basic Services Branch
United Nations Human Settlements Programme
Geneva Office

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  • MGuenard
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Re: Theme III: Civil society's role in monitoring (Thematic Discussion on Sustainable Development Goals)

Your "ladder" concept could be implemented in terms of "who and where people are the most at risk because of lack of sanitation progress".

Large urban concentration of people without sanitation solution is probably most urgent to tackle than small villages (not saying that the latter don't need solutions for sure!), just because of people high concentration.
If this kind of prioritization is accepted, then how to setup and share an inventory of places to start with solutions. the total of people in that inventory database should endup with the 2,3 billions of people suffering from lack of sanitation.

Biotechnologies for household sanitation
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  • alabasterg
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Re: Theme III: Civil society's role in monitoring (Thematic Discussion on Sustainable Development Goals)

Thanks for the post. I would fully agree with your observations. Some large urban centres pose a significant risk but also have the (limited) capacity to do something. The larger villages are a big problem because of unplanned haphazard urbanisation. It is the urban sprawl which is the most worrying and is the most costly to manage on a per capita basis. The only comment i would have is that we do need to look at these rapidly emerging villages and towns from the preventative approach. There is some very interesting experiences on decentralised systems. BORDA have documented some great experience.

Dr Graham Alabaster
Chief Waste Management & Sanitation
Urban Basic Services Branch
United Nations Human Settlements Programme
Geneva Office

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  • alabasterg
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Re: Theme III: Civil society's role in monitoring (Thematic Discussion on Sustainable Development Goals)

What do colleagues think of the monitoring ladder concept ? do you think it can work and can we use community sources for some of the "rungs" ?

Dr Graham Alabaster
Chief Waste Management & Sanitation
Urban Basic Services Branch
United Nations Human Settlements Programme
Geneva Office

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  • WASHanna
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Re: Theme III: Civil society's role in monitoring (Thematic Discussion on Sustainable Development Goals)

All,

I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in this discussion, and gauging by the conversations that have already begun I think it will be a lively one!

I think that Graham does a good job outlining the challenge. As I see it we indeed are facing a critical time in not only WASH, but global development writ large. The SDG process has been more extensive, more inclusive, and more aspirational than the MDG process. This is good, but it also means that the important work of implementation will also require more energy, resources, and collaboration. Ultimately, we will need to know that as a global community we are fulfilling the commitments that we have made in the SDGs and monitoring is the process by which this will occur.

Monitoring is essential because without it we won't know the full extent of the situation and progress made. Monitoring is the process by which governments will be held responsible for their commitments.

There are currently two "levels" of indicators proposed. The first consists of global indicators, which all countries would report on. My organization, the Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing (PPPHW), for instance, is advocating for hygiene to be measured as a global indicator. [You can, and should, join us in doing this! More info is here: bit.ly/hygieneSDG]. The second level consists of local or regional indicators. These would be selected by countries and tailored to their context.

Civil society, from my perspective, has a few roles to play in monitoring the SDGs. For instance, as the PPPHW is doing, we can advocate for the right global indicators. We can identify and promote good optional indicators. Also, implementing organizations can make current data more readily available to policymakers.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and engaging with you all on this topic over the next two weeks.

Hanna Woodburn
Acting Secretariat Director
Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing
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  • LucyStevens
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Re: Theme III: Civil society's role in monitoring (Thematic Discussion on Sustainable Development Goals)

Graham asked whether we can use community sources for some of the rungs of monitoring a sanitation ladder.

I really hope the answer is yes - because slum communities themselves are doing increasing amounts of work on enumerations, and at lower levels of detail, many NGOs are developing maps and surveys of slums where they are working.

The problem, however, is that it is hard to integrate these findings with DHS or census results because they are not representative samples and might not apply a standard set of questions. And this leaves us with the age-old problem that slum communities remain under-represented and un-seen in large survey findings, and the huge issue of the inequalities between slum communities Vs the rest of the city remain obscured.

On another topic, I am curious about overlaps between definitions of 'safe' water and 'safely managed' sanitation in targets 6.1 and 6.2, and the measures of waste water and water quality in 6.3. What is different about what will be monitored in 6.3? Is it that here we will be looking at the down-stream effects of what is happening at household levels?

Thanks, Lucy
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  • alabasterg
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Re: Theme III: Civil society's role in monitoring (Thematic Discussion on Sustainable Development Goals)

Thanks Lucy, I fully agree we need to find a way to get "official" offices of statistics and ministries to become more apprecaitive of community collected data, understanding its limitations while using it to guide choices etc. I would like to know if colleagues in JMP and other organizations think this is a good approach ?

Dr Graham Alabaster
Chief Waste Management & Sanitation
Urban Basic Services Branch
United Nations Human Settlements Programme
Geneva Office

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  • dorothee.spuhler
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Re: Theme III: Civil society's role in monitoring (Thematic Discussion on Sustainable Development Goals)

Dear Graham and all

As pointed out by Lucy one of the main factor hindering community collected data to enter into statistical reports is definitively the "standardisation" problem.

For the purpose of project monitoring within a your own organisation you may overcome this problem by providing guidance for communities how to collect data and by applying requirements and quality control of data to be "accepted".

Would such an approach work for a global monitoring program and to what conditions?
Could it also be integrated in the concept of "monitoring ladder" you mentioned earlier?

Cheers, Dorothee

WG1 Co-lead
Working with Sustainable Sanitation and Water Management (SSWM): www.sswm.info
Currently doing research on generating sanitation system options for urban planners and quantifying mass flows for a broad range of options considering novel technologies as an input into decision-making: www.tinyurl.com/eawag-grasp
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  • alabasterg
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Re: Theme III: Civil society's role in monitoring (Thematic Discussion on Sustainable Development Goals)

Dear Dorothee, I fully agree and think the way ahead is to provide links between the "formal" monitoring ladder and the opportunities to engage community-based or other non- traditional monitoring methods into the ladder structure. These methods can interprolate and extrapolate in more formal surveys. The example i like is the use of Remote Sensing of eutrophication to focus sapling and formal surveys.

Dr Graham Alabaster
Chief Waste Management & Sanitation
Urban Basic Services Branch
United Nations Human Settlements Programme
Geneva Office

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Mobile +41 763584929
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