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Monitoring is the routine assessment of activities and processes in order to measure whether activities are carried out as planned.

Evaluation is a systematic assessment of whether a programme has made the intended difference. The goal of evaluation is to answer the question: has the programme achieved its proposed objectives and impacts?

Done properly, findings from routine monitoring can inform periodic evaluation.

Monitoring assesses the human and financial inputs, activities and outputs of programmes, interventions or services. Evaluation assesses the outcomes and impacts of these programmes, interventions or services. Evaluation can be formative – taking place during the life of a project with the intention of improving the project approach or strategy – or it can be summative – distilling learning from a completed project or programme.

It is recommended that independent external parties carry out evaluations because they have greater objectivity than programme implementers.

Both monitoring and evaluation are essential components of effective management. Together they:

  • provide evidence about the effectiveness, efficiency, strengths and limitations of programmes, interventions and services;
  • provide feedback to stakeholders, such as funders, community members, local authorities, regulators and other sectors;
  • are essential for evidence-based approaches to programming and policy making;
  • build sector knowledge and enable systematic learning;
  • build an evidence base for research, policy and practice;
  • enable diagnostically accurate and targeted corrective action;
  • help to show accountability to stakeholders, aid sustainability and contribute to building an enabling environment.

Trends in sanitation monitoring

Monitoring and evaluation in the sanitation and hygiene sub-sector aims to: measure and ensure that inputs and activities lead to their intended results and outcomes; adjust course where necessary and establish whether progress is being made towards a given goal.

In a review of current trends in sanitation and hygiene monitoring from the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), four main trends in sanitation and hygiene monitoring are noted (see www.ircwash.org/news/keynote-topic-5-monitoring-sanitation-and-hygiene-overview-experiences-issues-and-challenges), namely:

  • a shift from monitoring (infrastructure) outputs to (behavioural/quality) outcomes;
  • a diversification of monitoring aspects and actors, both as subjects and implementers of the monitoring;
  • a growing focus on monitoring sustainability and the equity of outcomes and services;
  • a move towards systematization and harmonization, linking local-level monitoring to national-level systems.

These trends are evident in the topics and tools to be found on this site.

Expert views on WASH monitoring can be found at http://washmonitoring.wordpress.com/2013/04/25/expert-views-on-wash-monitoring.