Sector Results and Learning:
Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene

This Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) Sector Results and Learning page is a repository of evidence generated by all MCC-funded WASH interventions. To promote learning and inform future program design, this page captures monitoring data from key common indicators, showcases recent and relevant evaluations, includes all agency lessons from completed WASH evaluations to-date, and links to learning that has been aggregated across completed evaluations in the sector.

What Do We Invest In?

MCC has funded $1.1 billion in WASH interventions as of March 2022. These interventions fall into the following categories: water infrastructure; sanitation and/or wastewater infrastructure; hygiene and other training; and drainage infrastructure; and are often complemented by investments in policy and institutional reform.

Water Infrastructure

These programs address inadequacies in water supply, quality, or access by investing in water, sanitation, or wastewater infrastructure, and supporting utility strengthening.

Sanitation and/or Wastewater Infrastructure

These programs address inadequate access to sanitation by investing in sanitation and/or wastewater infrastructure and supporting water utility strengthening.

Hygiene & Other Training

These programs complement infrastructure investments and aim to improve hygiene and sanitary practices around water collection, storage, and use and the safe disposal of waste.

Drainage Infrastructure

These programs address excessive economic loss caused by flooding by building water drainage infrastructure.

What Have We Completed So Far?

MCC and its country partners develop and tailor Monitoring and Evaluation Plans for each program and country context. Within these country-specific plans, MCC uses common indicators to standardize measurement and reporting within certain sectors. See below for a subset of common indicators that summarize implementation achievements across all MCC WASH investments as of June 2022.

73,116

individuals trained in social and behavior change 

32,831

sanitation facilities constructed

1,661

kilometers of water pipelines constructed or replaced

220

millions of liters per day of water production capacity added

What Have We Achieved?

MCC commissions independent evaluations, conducted by third-party evaluators, for every project it funds. These evaluations hold MCC and country partners accountable for the achievement of intended results and also produce evidence and learning to inform future programming. They investigate the quality of project implementation, the achievement of the project objective and other targeted outcomes, and the cost-effectiveness of the project. The graphs below summarize the composition and status of MCC’s independent evaluations in the WASH sector as of April 2022. Read on to see highlights of published interim and final evaluations. Follow the evaluation links to see the status of all planned, ongoing, and completed evaluations in the sector and to access the reports, summaries, survey materials, and data sets.

Go to our List of Evaluations to see the status of MCC’s WASH sector evaluations

Highlighted Evaluations

Two large water tanks behind fencing.

March 17, 2022 | Sierra Leone Threshold Program

Reforming the water sector in Sierra Leone

Water utility’s capacity increased, but financial performance is low

  • Evaluation Type: Multiple
  • Evaluation Status: Interim

MCC’s $40.5 million Sierra Leone Threshold Program (2016–2021) focused on establishing a foundation for the effective and financially viable provision of electricity and water services in Freetown. The $13.6 million Water Sector Reform Project (WSRP) aimed to improve sector coordination, strengthen commercial practices and enhance the Guma Valley Water Company’s (Guma) service provision. The $7.6 million Regulatory Strengthening Project (RSP) aimed to build the capacity of the new regulator, improve sector governance and support the long-term financial sustainability of the water sector.

Read Evaluation Details or the Evaluation Brief

A Jack resident transporting water from the communal kiosk

July 28, 2020 | Zambia Compact

Improving Peri-Urban Water Access in Lusaka, Zambia

Water access improves in peri-urban area of Lusaka but remains uneven

  • Evaluation Type: Performance
  • Evaluation Status: Final

MCC’s $355 million Zambia Compact (2013–2018) supported private sector engagement in the water supply sector through the $6 million Innovation Grant Program. As a program grantee, MECB implemented the Smart Safe Water Supply Scheme Scaling-Up project, which aimed to save women’s time and reduce incidence of waterborne diseases for the target population by providing a reliable source of high-quality water.

Read Evaluation Details or the Evaluation Brief

Bridge over the Mazyopa drain

July 27, 2020 | Zambia Compact

Improving Water and Sanitation in Zambia

Use of grants to spur innovation required mid-course adaptations

  • Evaluation Type: Performance
  • Evaluation Status: Final

MCC’s $355 million Zambia Compact (2013–2018) was designed to increase residents’ access to water, sanitation, and drainage services and improve infrastructure and state capacity in these sectors. The Zambia Compact funded the $6 million Innovation Grant Program, an initiative to support innovative opportunities and partnerships in the water, sanitation, and solid waste management sectors. The program awarded five grants during grant cycle 1 (starting in November 2015) and nine grants during grant cycle 2 (beginning in November 2016).

Read Evaluation Details or the Evaluation Brief

May 16, 2019 | Tanzania Compact

Improving Water Supply in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Infrastructure investments improved reliability and quality of piped water

  • Evaluation Type: Multiple
  • Evaluation Status: Final

MCC’s $695 million Tanzania Compact (2008-2013) funded the $39.9 million Lower Ruvu Plant Expansion Activity in Dar es Salaam, which was part of the $54.6 million Water Sector Project (WSP). The objective of the project was to increase investment in human and physical capital and reduce prevalence of water-related diseases. The activity aimed to increase production and quality of water in Dar es Salaam by rehabilitating the Lower Ruvu (LR) Water Treatment Plant (WTP). The activity increased water production by 50% with the plant producing 270 million liters per day (MLD).

Read Evaluation Details or the Evaluation Brief

Go to our Evaluation Brief page to see all completed WASH sector evaluations

What Have We Learned from Our Results?

To link the evidence from the independent evaluations with MCC practice, project staff produce an MCC Learning document at the close of each interim and final evaluation to capture practical lessons for programming and evaluation. Use the filters below to find lessons relevant to your evidence needs.

  • MCC should consider the suitability of decentralized solutions to drainage in urban centers, rather than retrofitting large backbone drainage infrastructure in dense urban centers, which can become clogged with solid waste.

    MCC should consider the suitability of decentralized solutions to drainage in urban centers, rather than retrofitting large backbone drainage infrastructure in dense urban centers, which can become clogged with solid waste. Setting up a solid waste utility was not part of the program at the inception of the compact. MCC was compelled to tackle a whole new sector because the operation and maintenance of the large river-like compact-funded drains was dependent on an alternative for the residents to throw their trash. The complexity of creating and operating the solid waste utility was beyond what the compact program originally set out to do, and despite some successes (such as passage of the law authorizing the creation of the solid waste utility), tackling this new sector was too ambitious. The key lesson to take away is to think creatively about solutions to problems (i.e. flooding) that do not themselves spur yet more problems that must be solved (i.e. tackling the solid waste sector). There are other decentralized solutions that may be worth exploring for drainage rather than the default engineering solution of big backbone central drains. This lesson can be extrapolated to water and sanitation as well through exploring the feasibility of point-of-use or consumer-centric solutions rather than large centralized treatment systems. The evaluation notes that holistic design, complementary investments and contractor due diligence are necessary to obtain the full benefits of water, sanitation, and drainage infrastructure.

  • MCC should standardize a broad set of common approaches and requirements for the design and implementation of grant facilities, including a requirement to engage with a facility manager for oversight and implementation of grant programs.

    MCC should standardize a broad set of common approaches and requirements for the design and implementation of grant facilities, including a requirement to engage with a facility manager for oversight and implementation of grant programs. Under the IGP, the engagement of a grant facility manager proved to be an asset to the program in light of the various challenges, delays, and bottlenecks that arose throughout the start-up and implementation of the facility. In particular, the facility manager was able to lead in the provision of capacity building to grantees supported by the program, and to augment MCA-Zambia resources and efforts in responding to issues as they arose throughout the implementation of each grantee’s project. Despite this strength, some aspects of implementation suffered due to misunderstandings between the facility manager and grantees, and a high administrative burden on both MCA-Zambia and MCC staff – challenges that resemble those documented across several MCC-funded grant programs. For instance, the evaluation noted that there were disagreements between the facility manager and various grantees in verifying the achievement of key milestones, contributing to delays in disbursements and complicating engagement with beneficiary communities. Therefore, greater effort is required to identify and implement strategies to streamline the design and implementation of grant facilities. MCC will incorporate this lesson by developing a standard operations manual for grant facilities, and a standard terms of reference for a grant facility manager.

  • Clearly define key objectives of grant programs, and align these with strategies and guidance for implementation that is conveyed to program stakeholders.

    Clearly define key objectives of grant programs, and align these with strategies and guidance for implementation that is conveyed to program stakeholders. The rollout of the IGP was explicitly conveyed to potential applicants and beneficiaries as an initiative that intended to be “pro-poor” in its focus, including objectives aimed at increasing access among the poor to water and sanitation services, expanding incomegenerating opportunities for participants, and incorporating women and vulnerable groups into its programs. While these objectives were incorporated as part of the scoring of grant applications, the evaluation found that prospective grantees expressed confusion over how these features should be specifically demonstrated in their projects, with some having difficulty showing that their interventions effectively target the poor. MCA stakeholders also noted that the relative weighting of the pro-poor criteria changed over time during the selection process, and may have had tradeoffs with other scoring criteria that were used to rate proposals. In addition, the pro-poor emphasis during much of the outreach and selection process raised expectations among some stakeholders that the program would award grants primarily to smaller, local organizations or to the poor specifically, leading to disillusionment among some groups with the announcement of final grantees. Therefore, it is important that objectives such as focusing benefits on the poor or vulnerable groups be coherently defined, agreed between MCC and MCA, and communicated, and that key details for selecting and implementing projects are designed to reflect and reinforce the stated objectives.

  • Build on efforts to integrate gender equality into grant activities and ensure women’s representation among beneficiaries and workers under grant programs.

    Build on efforts to integrate gender equality into grant activities and ensure women’s representation among beneficiaries and workers under grant programs. A key objective of the IGP was to provide significant access by women and vulnerable groups to the program and its benefits – an aim that was conveyed widely to stakeholders during early outreach efforts, and encoded into the selection process. Women ultimately comprised over 50 percent of the total number of beneficiaries of IGP, although they constituted just 31 percent of the workers holding temporary jobs created through the grant programs. In addition, the evaluation found less than half the incomes associated with jobs created under IGP went to women, suggesting they often missed out on the economic benefits of the program. During implementation, the evaluation cited instances of grantees striving to increase employment of women in their programs through practical measures, such as directly hiring additional female staff or designing interventions to improve women’s livelihoods. These examples suggest that the women’s employment rate of 31 percent is higher than it would have been in the absence of IGP requirements. Additional efforts to identify barriers to female employment, address them during design, and benchmark progress will likely bring about enhanced results that can be more directly attributed to MCC measures for equality of opportunity.

  • Critically assess the risks where grant interventions rely on weak or unresponsive sector institutions for critical functions during implementation, and sustainability of results over the long term.

    Critically assess the risks where grant interventions rely on weak or unresponsive sector institutions for critical functions during implementation, and sustainability of results over the long term. Even as the IGP sought to introduce innovations from the private sector into the water and sanitation sectors, months were lost during implementation due to reliance on existing sector institutions, such as the Lusaka City Council, for critical steps such as the securing of land, permits, or other agreements and approvals. In addition, several stakeholders observed that assumptions about innovations from the private sector as a means for achieving impact may have overlooked the need to address more systemic challenges within the water and sanitation sectors, which largely emerge from inadequate planning and low capacity. Generally, the IGP sought to harness community-based organizations in order to improve service delivery to populations that otherwise would not have been reached by larger infrastructure investments under the Zambia compact. However, by compact closeout, several grantees highlighted tenuous levels of support from key implementing entities as a significant risk to the sustainability of their interventions.

How Have We Aggregated Learning Across the Sector?

MCC has developed a Principles into Practice paper using evidence from completed independent evaluations in the WASH sector Principles into Practice: Lessons from Evaluations of MCC Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) Programs. The Principles into Practice series offers a frank look at what it takes to make the principles MCC considers essential for development operational in the projects in which MCC invests. The learning captured in this paper informs MCC’s ongoing efforts to refine and strengthen its own model and development practice in the WASH sector. MCC hopes this paper will also allow others to benefit from, and build upon, MCC’s lessons.