An important question was raised during the East Africa CSO Forum: Can governments post on WASHwatch?
The short answer is yes, we don’t want to prevent anyone from being able to post on WASHwatch.
The long answer is that I would be excited to have government officials sharing on WASHwatch. WASHwatch strives to promote transparency and if governments are taking the time to post on WASHwatch then this is a fantastic demonstration of transparency and collaboration. WASHwatch strives to collect the most up-to-date information on government policies and there is no more direct source than government itself.
Nevertheless, I do understand that this raises a few concerns. In this post I will focus on the advantages of governments using WASHwatch and in the next post I will go into some of the potential disadvantages and address why I don’t think they are major concerns.
At the moment, even when a government has made progress towards delivering their policy commitments, it is difficult, time consuming and tedious to find out about it.
- Assuming you know what you are looking for, it takes significant effort to sort through ministry websites to find the relevant documents.
- Assuming that the relevant information can be found on the ministry websites, policy documents are often long, budgets are complex and the process of distilling all the needed information requires both an unhealthy level of interest in WASH policy and excessive amounts of free time.
- The commitments monitored on WASHwatch are connected through their relevance to the WASH sector but individual commitments might be under the control of distinct ministries. Sanitation and hygiene are often the responsibility of the ministry of health whereas water policy falls under the responsibility of the ministry of water and environment. Anyone wanting to follow up on whether or not a government has delivered their policy commitments might have to sort through several ministry websites, each with different labelling and reporting protocols. Again, it’s time consuming and can be daunting to government outsiders.
WASHwatch strives to share the burden of collecting this information by creating a central platform to report policy progress and using crowdsourcing to secure the responses.
The data collection burden would be further reduced if governments, as they delivered on their commitments, posted their progress on WASHwatch. After all, they know best what they have and haven’t done. Governments could use their national WASHwatch page as a one-stop shop for all details on WASH sector.
We are working on adding a function that would allow users to upload supporting documents, which could be used by governments to upload WASH policy papers and relevant sections of their budget (or links to this information on their ministry websites). In the meantime, we can share documents through this blog.
If a government is following through on their policy commitments, WASHwatch is a platform to share their success with WASH sector workers and advocates from around the world. WASHwatch allows them to report WASH policy progress in real time while demonstrating a strong commitment to transparency.
Governments don’t necessarily need WASHwatch to create a comprehensive and easy to access picture of their WASH sector policy as they could create a similar space on the relevant Ministry’s website; however, using WASHwatch has the added benefit of allowing them to share their progress with the international WASH sector, and demonstrate their progress to the peers with whom they made the commitments in the first place.
I would be excited to have governments engage with WASHwatch.
- I want up-to-date information and government transparency
- WASH policy advocates want governments to engage because it will save them a whole lot of time sorting through huge, complex documents
- All governments should want to engage with WASHwatch to ensure that the information that is publicly shared is correct and up to date
- Officials may well find that using the site as a ‘one-stop shop’ for WASH information makes their everyday work easier
- Governments who are true ambassadors for water and sanitation and meeting their commitments are needed to publicise their achievements, to lead by example and demonstrate to their peers the value of following through on WASH investments