arrow_backEmergency WASH

M.2 Monitoring

Monitoring is the systematic and continuous checking of a hygiene promotion (HP) intervention to ensure that it is doing what was intended, allocated funds are being used effectively, feedback is heard and acted upon and strengths, weaknesses and gaps are identified so that changes can be made as needed.

Indicators are the ‘signals’ that enable measurement of the progress or targets and therefore of change, e.g. changes in the frequency of safe disposal of babies’ excreta or washing hands before eating. There are different levels of programme intervention (with corresponding indicators) that together deliver the overall goal of the response. A goal is a complex overall aim that in WASH is usually about protecting public health. The activities, such as constructing toilets or handwashing facilities, contribute to the outputs, e.g. people using these facilities, which in turn contribute to outcomes, e.g. reducing disease risks. Each level is measured with its own indicators. 

The five essential ‘output’ indicators for monitoring HP (as part of a WASH response) relate to: 1) safe excreta disposal, 2) handwashing with soap at key times, 3) the use of safe drinking water, 4) the practice of these target hygiene behaviours amongst all sectors of the community (including vulnerable groups) and 5) enabling women to manage menstruation with privacy and dignity. However, the selection of indicators will be dependent on the context and whether the programme is responding to WASH health risks or the outbreak of a specific disease. 

The initial assessment and analysis (chapter  A ) identifies the needs as well as what and how change can be achieved. Assessment findings inform the design of the objectives and indicators for the WASH intervention. This initial information can help to establish a baseline for each indicator so that monitoring can track any changes by the end (‘endline’) of an intervention. Additional specific information may be needed to fill in gaps in the baseline or to better understand the determinants of specific behaviours. In an emergency, there may be constant changes in the context and monitoring is essential to measure progress and to adapt the programme.

Monitoring is about identifying the things that are going well and the things that need changing. It should also track the effective and efficient use of funds and whether the programme is having the intended impact. However, it is difficult to attribute an impact on health to WASH interventions alone, as public health is influenced by the response as a whole rather than by a single sector intervention. Proxy indicators (measuring change indirectly, using a substitute indicator) are often used to support monitoring, e.g. handwashing with soap is known to reduce diarrhoeal diseases and it can therefore be assumed that if people are washing their hands at key times there will be an impact on their health - so handwashing with soap is a proxy indicator for the impact on health. 

Different methods and tools can be used to collect monitoring data; they are similar to those used for assessments. Examples are: Transect Walks T.52, Pocket Chart Voting T.31, (Community) Mapping T.7, community meetings, team meetings, Observation T.28, Focus Group Discussions T.14 and post-distribution monitoring. In some circumstances remote programming E.10 and data collection may be necessary.

Using different methods helps to capture different perspectives and to triangulate and cross-check information, e.g. Observation T.28 addresses how drinking water is stored at household level and Pocket-Chart Voting T.31 addresses the sources of drinking water. Monitoring data should not simply be about numbers (such as how many latrines have been built) but about whether the community is satisfied with them and whether the latrines are in good condition and being used. Both quantitative and qualitative data is usually required. 

It is also important to monitor community engagement and participation (chapter  E ) - ensuring that all sectors of the community, including vulnerable groups, are consulted and represented in all aspects of the programme. Data should be disaggregated by age, gender and disability as a minimum.

The WASH cluster plays a key role in the coordination of monitoring systems. The Global WASH Cluster Coordination Toolkit provides guidance on how to establish a WASH response monitoring plan, with information compiled from different sources across the sector. 

Process & Good Practice

  • Use existing national standards if available, or internationally recognised standards, such as Sphere, to support the identification of key actions and indicators and contribute to quality and accountability. 

  • Draw up a specific monitoring plan at the beginning of the programme with a timeframe, budget and a clear indication of staffing and responsibilities. 

  • Clarify the purpose of collecting the information: who will use it, how, when and why.

  • Track each indicator using monitoring methods and tools. A monitoring plan should describe who will use the methods and tools, how and when.

  • Involve the community in the monitoring process M.5 instead of treating them solely as the objects of monitoring. 

  • Consider using visual tools such as a Spidergram T.48 to rate ‘hard to measure’ indicators like the level of community satisfaction or participation.  

  • Share the monitoring plan with different stakeholders, e.g. the community, partners, donors and other organisations, in a format that is accessible and easy to understand so that it can be used for decision making.

  • Employ visual methods of presenting information, such as pictures, graphs, bar and pie charts, to help explain the monitoring findings to different audiences.

  • Focus on collecting data that is essential or useful to know, rather than nice to know. Plan according to the available resources for monitoring and only collect data that will be analysed and used.

  • Advocate to the Coordination Platform or WASH cluster to establish a monitoring system that tracks key HP interventions, not just the distribution of hygiene kits.



To measure progress and check whether the programme is working according to plan.


  • Monitoring should be planned and systematic; indicators for monitoring the objectives should be developed as early as possible in the programme.

  • Information should be recorded, analysed and shared with people in a timely manner and used to ensure a high-quality, effective programme.

  • Different aspects of the programme need to be monitored: the processes (e.g. whether latrines are constructed with the involvement of the community), the activities and outputs (e.g. the number of latrines and whether they are being used), the outcomes (e.g. whether excreta is being safely disposed of) and, if possible, the impact (e.g. changes in public health).

  • Monitoring is not a one-off activity, but a continuous process that compares progress with the project or programme design, tracks changes in the context and people’s needs and identifies appropriate corrections during the response to increase the programme’s effectiveness. Monitoring data should feed into the Evaluation M.3.

  • In an emergency, the monitoring system needs to be simple, fast and flexible. 

  • Data collection and storage must adhere to common ethical standards. Confidential, identifiable information should not be shared without the respondents’ permission.

  • Hygiene promoters, engineers and the affected community should all be involved in the monitoring process from start to finish. 


Hygiene Promotion standards and indicators

Sphere Association (2018): The Sphere Handbook: Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response 4th Edition

UNICEF (2007): Indicators for Monitoring Hygiene Promotion in Emergencies. Best Practice Materials Produced Through the WASH Cluster HP Project

Guidance on how to establish a WASH monitoring plan

GWC (undated): Global WASH Cluster Coordination Toolkit (CTK), Global WASH Cluster Advisory and Strategic Team (GWC CAST)

Ferron, S., Morgan, J. et al. (2007): Hygiene Promotion. A Practical Manual for Relief and Development, Practical Action Publishing. ISBN: 978-1853396410

Multi-sectoral guide to monitoring and evaluation with definitions, methods and guidance (in English and French)

ACF (undated): Multi-Sectoral Monitoring and Evaluation Guidelines (Available in English and French)

General and COVID-19 specific information and resources on monitoring and evaluation

Majorin, F., Watson, J., et al. (2020): Summary Report on Remote Data Collection, COVID-19 Hygiene Hub

Freeman, M., White, S. et al. (2020): Summary Report on General Principles for Monitoring and Evaluating Covid-19 Prevention Projects, COVID-19 Hygiene Hub

Monitoring community satisfaction

Oxfam (2018): An Introduction to Community Engagement in WASH