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Giving Compass' Take:
• WASH Funders discusses the issue of data in the field of water and sanitation development, exploring how there's a lot of money being spent on analysis, but not enough on actual solutions.
• Are organizations in general getting too data happy? While gathering information is crucial to operations, there may be a saturation point, and the examples given in this piece on WASH details where the inefficiencies are.
In recent years there has been a greatly increased focus by governments and development partners on monitoring of water services, with several associated tools, indicator frameworks, and platforms. But we may be spoiling a good thing with too much attention.
The questioners were getting at a problem that is arising in global development projects. A large part of the issue can be summed up in this analysis of the costs of monitoring, as outlined in the white paper Effective Philanthropy, by the non-profit organization Giving Evidence.
"Monitoring and evaluating, and reporting to donors is a significant cost: in the UK, about £1 billion annually, i.e., 2.7% of charitable sector income, and about 2% in the US. There is evidence that much of it is too low quality to guide good decisions, and that neither charities nor funders find it terribly helpful. So either the quality should be improved, or this work should cease: that £1 billion — and its equivalents in other countries — could fund a lot of trachoma operations or diarrhea prevention. Furthermore, the purpose of this tracking is to influence behavior, and it is known that some ways of presenting and receiving information are better at achieving this than others. It is not clear that charities' tracking research is being best used to that end."
Read the full article about why we may need more action and less data for WASH by Susan Davis at WASHfunders.