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From data to decisions: how to promote evidence-based decision-making through external investments in country-led monitoring processes

Research reports

Written by Tiina Pasanen, Nathaniel Mason

Hero image description: Children carry buckets of water, Lakka, Western Area Peninsula, Sierra Leone, 2011 Image credit:Eduardo Fonseca Arraes Image license:CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Investments in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) monitoring systems are not yielding the transformative change promised. Even where data are collected, they are not necessarily being used to improve decision-making.

Within the WASH sector, monitoring has traditionally been viewed as a technical concern. Little attention has been paid to the political and behavioural factors that determine how monitoring data are used.

This publication, from WASH Matters WaterAid, draws on knowledge of evidence-informed decision-making beyond the WASH sector to analyse case studies of monitoring systems in Nicaragua, Sierra Leone and Timor-Leste. The starting point is the uses and users of data, in particular the political economy of decision-making – that is, the institutions, incentives and ideas that shape the behaviour of key decision-makers. To a lesser extent, the report also draws on insights from behavioural science. 

To maximise the value and effectiveness of external investments in WASH monitoring, it is vital that stakeholders engage with these factors. To support this engagement, the report provides a step-by-step planning guide on how donors and other stakeholders can better understand the use of WASH data in decision-making.

Children carry buckets of water, Lakka, Western Area Peninsula, Sierra Leone, 2011

Tiina Pasanen and Nathaniel Mason