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Exploring the potential for a water point data standard
Since the first instance when US NGO Water For People introduced FLOW in 2010, we’ve gained huge experience in mobile surveys of point data. Akvo FLOW has now been used to monitor or evaluate around a million data points, many of these being water points.

One of our key goals is to enable better programmatic and policy decision making in the development sector, based on high quality real-time data. In the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene sector (often termed “WASH”), we’ve focused on helping organizations and governments switch to digital and especially mobile data collection methods, such as through the use of Akvo FLOW. This provides accurate real time data on which to base decisions on.

So, does this mean we have already achieved our goal? The simple answer is no. Although a switch from paper based to smart phone data gathering is a huge step towards the end goal, major bottlenecks still exist. One is whether the data that is being collected is relevant and in a format that can be compared across organizations and regions. Another is whether data that is collected is used in an effective way to inform the decision-making process.

Both of these questions are best examined with partners. That’s why we’re part of the working group for the Water Point Data Exchange (WPDx) initiative, which was initiated and is being led by Global Water Challenge. The initiative will not only help the process of harmonizing the data being collected across the sector but will also provide easy access to existing water point data, providing a living record of information. The bonus side effect of this is an increase in collaboration, which is always a good thing.

Above: sharing is caring. Next week’s webinar will provide an update on sector-wide efforts to support the sharing of water point data. Photo by Jo Pratt.

Akvo has been working for several years with standards related to aid transparency – specifically the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) standard. We’ve learned what counts, and how to make the transition easier for partners. The IATI data standard is something lots of organizations need to address now, as funders want consistent data. But IATI is focused mainly on tracking financial data connected to aid projects and organizations. A standard for water points is something altogether different.

So, on behalf of the Water Point Data Exchange, we invite you to join a one-hour webinar on Thursday, February 5 at 11:00am EST, registration information is below.

Sharing is caring: the emerging framework for sharing water point data
Webinar – February 5, 2015 – 11:00am  EST

This webinar will provide an update on sector-wide efforts to support the sharing of water point data across diverse stakeholders. Harmonizing this data has the potential to provide unprecedented opportunities for learning from the past and managing water services well into the future.

Starting with a background on the objectives of this initiative, the webinar will also provide an update on the progress made to date and the next steps in the development of the Water Point Data Exchange. Participants will be introduced to the current draft standard and also learn how they can to help shape the standard as this work moves forward.

Click here to register.
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Henry Jewell is executive director of Akvo Foundation USA.