Sector Results and Learning:
Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene

This 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 recently released evaluations, and includes all agency lessons from WASH evaluations completed to-date.

What Do We Invest In?

MCC has spent $1.04 billion in WASH interventions through September 30, 2020. These interventions fall into the following categories: water supply, sanitation and/or wastewater, drainage, or training in hygiene and/or related topics, 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 to each particular program and country context. Within these country-specific plans, MCC uses common indicators where appropriate 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 December 2020.

12,386

people trained in hygiene and sanitary best practices

1,191

water points constructed

21,776

temporary jobs created in water and sanitation construction

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 produce evidence and learning to inform future program decision-making. They investigate the quality of project implementation, the extent to which the project objective and other targeted outcomes were achieved, 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 February 2021. Read on to see highlights of newly 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, surveys, and data sets.

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

Recently Published Evaluations

What Do the Results Mean for Our Practice?

To link the evidence produced by 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.

  • Particularly for large infrastructure delivery like sanitation network connections, early risk identification and community coordination is critical to avoid harm to the community.

    Particularly for large infrastructure delivery like sanitation network connections, early risk identification and community coordination is critical to avoid harm to the community. The need to thoughtfully communicate and modify the behavior of residents in the neighborhoods that would receive a new sewage network was identified early in the compact design process. These residents would need to not only change sanitation practices associated with moving from pit latrines to connected sewerage systems and building toilets but also to navigate the process of connecting to the system through a Sanitation Connection Action Plan. Unfortunately, the construction of the sewerage network in the low-income community of Mtendere encountered several challenges including a poor-performing contractor leading to the network remaining incomplete several months after compact close. The evaluation findings uncovered residents frustrated at the lack of infrastructure that had been promised for so long, including a few who took out loans to build toilets that now sat unused. This unfortunate story has many lessons including earlier risk identification and responses to community coordination, procurement and technical challenges. A new Integrated Program Management initiative within MCC is building project management capacity that aims to support learning from this experience for ongoing and future programs. MCC also updated procurement processes including development of new Standard Bidding Documents to ensure contract award to best technically qualified bidders at a reasonable price rather than lowest cost technically qualified bidders.

  • MCC compacts should prioritize building data capacities of beneficiary institutions from the earliest engagement to support development of data-driven program design and to facilitate effective monitoring and evaluation during and after compact close.

    MCC compacts should prioritize building data capacities of beneficiary institutions from the earliest engagement to support development of data-driven program design and to facilitate effective monitoring and evaluation during and after compact close. Initial financial assessments using data obtained from the Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company (LWSC) showed a position of strength for the utility including low debt, and ultimately a surplus in revenue over expenses by 2009. This seemingly strong position influenced the compact design and investment decisions. During compact implementation, assessments of the utility’s data quality systems and further deep dives into the utility’s data uncovered a systematic deferral of maintenance activities and other operational challenges that directly impacted all of the major benefits modeled in the Economic Rate of Return calculation originally used to justify the compact investment. Admittedly, such data
    assessments are challenging for an outside entity if the underlying systems are not in place to monitor operations of the utility. There is a need to build in institutional data systems within the compact to verify the program design and to support continued monitoring as well as evaluation. For example, efforts by the compact to increase LWSC revenue through customer metering and an update of the customer database did result in about a three percent improvement based on analysis conducted by the independent evaluator. However, the utility was not conducting these analyses internally and therefore made decisions that did not maximize the benefit from this intervention (by choosing to replace meters for already metered customers rather than metering customers who were previously unmetered and received lower bills).

  • MCC must ensure that all activities have a well-articulated project logic leading to key outcomes of interest.

    MCC must ensure that all activities have a well-articulated project logic leading to key outcomes of interest. Explicit articulation of assumptions in the logic can support prioritization during implementation toward key outcomes and align evaluation approaches to measure those key outcomes. The entire compact was one project with a large Infrastructure Activity and a much smaller Institutional Strengthening Activity, which were intended to be complementary. However, the Institutional Strengthening Activity was not clearly aligned with the Infrastructure Activity and the two were not well-integrated into the overall project logic. There was a lower emphasis on the institutional capacity building compared to infrastructure and this resulted in piece-meal technical assistance activities. Technical assistance was therefore viewed as a check-box exercise by some contractors rather than a holistic approach toward the improved utility outcomes. For example, the evaluation found that some utility staff engaged in receiving technical assistance to update the utility’s customer database were unclear that the goal of the exercise was to capture customers who were not previously billed, or were billed inaccurately, thereby improving the utility’s revenue in service of the financial sustainability outcome. Within the program logic, there was an implicit assumption that a financially stable utility will provide good service delivery (water and wastewater services), and also be incentivized to equitably distribute benefits to all its customers. Due diligence during the compact design phase indicated inequitable service delivery across the utility’s customer footprint with the burdens of inadequate service falling heavily on low income areas and on women. To address this issue, the MCC program provided technical assistance to the utility to improve the its structure, policies, and management practices to make it easier for vulnerable populations to pay their water bills and was successful in changing rules. However, it is unclear whether the updated policies and rules will be implemented to benefit vulnerable customers since a utility’s actions are influenced by the political economy of the broader sector, incentives, and entrenched power structures. The logic should have a realistic articulation of the assumption that the utility is incentivized to prioritize vulnerable customers. The incomplete articulation of the assumptions in the logic made it harder for the evaluator to fully understand the purpose and effectiveness of the technical assistance. On the programmatic side, it would be prudent to think of alternative approaches outside of the utility’s purview to address the two goals of utility financial sustainability, and equitable distribution of benefits to the customers. A critical behavior change assumption linking hygiene behaviors among the beneficiary population to downstream health benefits was not explicitly articulated in the logic and there was no coherent strategy geared to address this key assumption. Hygiene messaging was included as part of various Information, Education, and Communication campaigns, but it was in the context of other goals (such as sanitation connections) rather than toward reducing diarrheal disease.

  • The selection process for awarding individual grants under the IGP did not adhere to equivalent standards for documentation and due diligence as used for conventional MCC projects, and did not have adequately documented program logics or clear targets to facilitate evaluation planning and design.

    The selection process for awarding individual grants under the IGP did not adhere to equivalent standards for documentation and due diligence as used for conventional MCC projects, and did not have adequately documented program logics or clear targets to facilitate evaluation planning and design. This led to lack of clarity behind the logic of a grant intervention or selection of beneficiaries compared to a conventional project, limiting the evaluator’s ability to validate baseline assumptions that underlie the rationale for the activity. MCC is working on a leveraged grant facility guidance document that will help address these concerns and shift grant identification to an earlier phase of compact development.