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Guidelines for Impact Evaluations in the Water and Sanitation Sector

Sponsors: Thematic Group on Poverty Impact Analysis, Monitoring and Evaluation, the Water Anchor, and the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Thematic Group

Presenter: Christine Poulos and Subhrendu Pattanayak (RTI International)

When: June 12, 12:30 - 2:00pm

Sustainable and equitable access to safe water and adequate sanitation are widely acknowledged as important development goals. Yet, to date few rigorous scientific impact evaluations show how water supply and sanitation (WSS) policies are contributing to welfare, economic growth and poverty alleviation.  Almost all existing impact evaluations focus on WSS contributing to health outcomes.  While there is sufficient general information on the how and why of impact evaluations, little information is available regarding the specific issues that will occur when undertaking an impact evaluation in the WSS sector.

This BBL will present guidelines for conducting impact evaluations in the water and sanitation sector, drawing on Poulos, Pattanayak, and Jones’ (2006) “A Guide to Water and Sanitation Sector Impact Evaluations,” which was prepared for the Bank’s “Doing Impact Evaluation” Paper Series.  The seminar will focus on three issues that require consideration in designing and implementing impact evaluations for WSS programs. First, the main outcome of interest for WSS programs is providing people with efficient and sustainable access to safe drinking water and/or basic sanitation services. Thus, we will focus on how impact evaluations can measure changes in access. Second, we view the impact evaluation through the lens of a task team in the WSS sector – someone who contributes to the design, implementation, supervision and ultimately evaluation of WSS programs. We consider how different types of WSS interventions (e.g., policies and reforms versus construction [and/or rehabilitation] of water, sewerage and sanitation systems) could be evaluated. Third, we identify unique issues in data collection for WSS impact evaluations and describe appropriate and useful data collection procedures. Subsequently, we will discuss the issue of defining appropriate WSS indicators, which can demonstrate the achievement of WSS targets.


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