Monitoring the Sustainable Development Goals

We fixed a time frame (2030) [as to when] every citizen around the world should have functioning water and sanitation services within reach. That is at least what countries agreed on when they adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

I am convinced that by 2021 at the latest, all countries serious about the SDGs need to have strong monitoring systems in place. How else will they know what path to follow to achieve water, sanitation and hygiene services for all?

The present monitoring and evaluation systems in place in many countries are not designed to respond to the challenges around the SDGs. Take Niger, where the government thought that 69.5 percent of the population had adequate water, sanitation and hygiene services. Estimates given by the Ministry of Water and Sanitation in 2016 showed, however, that the country has provided only 18% percent of the population with basic services. This is disruptive and shocking data for officials. Officials in Niger are reflecting on how to deal with this.

If you want real change, if you want the ambition of the SDGs to really happen, then you need to have a monitoring system that properly weights the problems, defines actions accordingly and measures progress and effectiveness.  It exposes problems you thought were fixed, obstacles and bottlenecks in your country’s system you had no idea of, or you have no data to illustrate a situation. It shows that people in the city have much better access to WASH services than villagers. And it might show that, as is the case in Mali, you do not have enough trained mechanics in place to fix a tap or hand pump.

Monitoring is the backbone to achieving the SDGs. Without it, reaching the SDGs is a blind struggle.

[Juste Nansi, IRC article]

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