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Taking monitoring to scale: sharing in Malawi

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From the 6th to the 10th August, development practitioners and government representatives from 17 countries gathered in Lilongwe, Malawi to discuss opportunities, experiences and challenges in Monitoring and Evaluating (M&E) for Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS). The question driving the workshop was: As national governments around the world begin to take CLTS to scale, how do we simultaneously scale up Monitoring and Evaluation methodologies and tools to meet information gaps and capture the right evidence to track progress and inform improved programming?

We learned lessons in the use of innovative methodologies and tools for gathering field level information to inform government programming in CLTS. Two case studies stood out for me; the first was from Indonesia, where the District Government in East Java is working with the Water and Sanitation Programme (WSP) of the World Bank to implement an SMS-based monitoring system to track sanitation indicators. Health Extension workers (“Sanitarians”) gather 10 indictors from within the community (through dialoguing with Natural Leaders and Community Sanitation Committees) and send that information through SMS, in a comma separated coded format. The codes were developed through trial and error by the District government. The SMS messages are received and stored at the District Level through a MySQL powered database. The results are aggregated cumulatively and data checks are integrated through automated messages that are sent back to the health workers if 1) the information on # of toilets constructed, for example, is lower than that of toilets recorded in the baseline (an error) or 2) if the # is lower than that reported in previous months (another error that the system can recognize automatically). SMS messages are paid for by the local government (each health worker is given 50 cents per month to cover the cost of these messages). The information is used by the District Government to track progress in communities involved in CLTS programming.

A second case study of taking M&E methods to scale is from Rwanda, where the Ministries of Health and Education are supporting communities generated, participatory maps created on bed sheets to map out community health and social indicators. 14,000 communities have put themselves on their own map – and these outputs have been used to track outcomes and show change over time. The maps (I love maps!) are kept by communities and are a tool for demonstrating and celebrating change!

Jamie Lundine is Co-Founder and Partner of the Spatial Collective

Date: 16 October 2012