Implementing a comprehensive sanitation initiative in India with the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN)
The government of India embarked on an ambitious programme in 2014 with the goal of making India open defecation free by 2019. The Aga Khan Foundation (AKF), part of a prominent development network in India, initiated an ambitious sanitation programme in order to contribute to the overall efforts of this mission. AKF’s comprehensive sanitation initiative focuses on the construction of 100,000 toilets within four years. This initiative spans five states – Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Telangana – covering 16 districts and 33 blocks.
Through the program, AKDN aims to ensure 100% sanitation and safe water coverage at the household, community and school level in the selected project locations. Akvo provides a system for efficient and transparent data collection and monitoring of WASH services.
Above: Group meeting to raise awareness on key hygiene practices in Mahuva block, Bhavnagar district, Gujarat. Credits: Aga Khan Foundation.
One of the biggest challenges in monitoring such programmes is the absence of a system to accurately, remotely and regularly track progress towards the set targets. Tracking progress of infrastructure construction using manual paper-based surveys would have been very cumbersome considering the geographic scale of the programme.
In addition, programme partners wanted to monitor the usage of toilets and link it to their behaviour change communication (BCC) campaigns. These campaigns have contributed to more usage of toilets in the intervention areas. Considering the complexity of the programme, the limitations of a manual data collection and management system are many. In light of this, AFK recognised the need for a robust data collection and monitoring system which would make data available in real time, enabling verification and informed decision making.
Aga Khan Development Network. Comprehensive Sanitation Initiative
The cooperation between Akvo and AKF partners commenced in 2016 with a focus on developing a system for efficient and transparent data collection and monitoring of WASH services.
In order to achieve this objective, Akvo offered programmatic guidance and support to fine-tune the programme’s monitoring and evaluation (M&E) framework and design both survey questionnaires and an appropriate sampling methodology. Intensive training workshops were facilitated with the various partner teams on data collection using Akvo Flow. Akvo also worked closely with partners to help them understand, analyse and visualise the data, providing a deep contextual knowledge of the sector and experience in monitoring large scale surveys.
Today, the use of Akvo Flow has accelerated the pace of data collection and simplified the process in which data will be monitored overtime. As of early 2018, AKDN partners have used Akvo Flow to track the construction of 50,000 toilets. Soon, a protocol for monitoring toilet usage will also be underway. Akvo has also developed a data visualisation dashboard which is useful for the team to view their progress on selected indicators at the overall programme level and disaggregated geographical levels.
AKDN’s sanitation programme won the best sanitation programme in India award at a conference organised by the India Sanitation Coalition, a coalition of corporates, NGOs and Government agencies involved in sanitation.