The Sanitation Investment Tracker is a suite of applications that can be used to track investment (and associated expenditure) in sanitation at household level. It can be used by a variety of actors (including governments, NGOs, private operators of sanitation services) to help them understand the on-site sanitation market, by knowing who has invested and how much in on-site sanitation. This information is critical for designing, financing and monitoring sanitation programmes as well as providing services to households which have on-site sanitation (such as desludging services).
Why is it needed? The rationale behind the development of this tool is that data on households’ investment and recurrent expenditure on latrines is currently missing, despite the fact that it often represents a major proportion of total investment in the sanitation sector, and can be higher than government and donor expenditure combined in countries where on-site sanitation predominates (such as in large parts of Sub-Saharan Africa). This information is highly needed by sanitation practitioners, donors, NGOs and policy makers to understand how the sector is currently financed and to inform the development of programs aimed at supporting low-income households in building their own latrines and their related financing strategies.
How did the idea originate? The Sanitation Investment Tracker originates from the “UpraiseMyLoo” idea developed by Tremolet Consulting, Siraj Tahir from Arup and Taarifa Platform developers. It was awarded first prize at the London Sanitation Hackathon in December 2012.
The Project Team. The Sanitation Investment Tracker is developed by Tremolet Consulting and Akvo.org, with the support of SHARE. The SHARE research consortium, a DFID funded research consortium focused on sanitation and hygiene running from 2010-2015, is funding part of the development of the SIT app and will be supporting dissemination and learning on the use of SIT and other mobile phone apps for sanitation. Although this material has been funded by UK aid from the Department for International Development (DFID), the views expressed do not necessarily reflect the Department’s official policies.
What is SIT? How does it work?
The Sanitation Investment Tracker includes the following suite of applications:
· A data collection application for smartphones powered by Akvo FLOW to obtain data on on-site sanitation facilities, including location, picture, technical design and associated expenditure. All data is fed into an online database, which must be managed by an institution/organization. The application issues a Unique Reference Number (URN) for each latrine when data is first collected that is physically attached to the latrine (e.g. bar code, mark).
· Data analysis tools. From the central database, different reports on households’ facilities and associated investments can be generated for different types of users, e.g. for governments/policy makers, programme managers, latrine emptiers or even users themselves, in response to demand. Data generated by the data collection application mentioned above can be combined with other data sets (such as on related government or NGO expenditure).
Related “add-on” modules will also be developed, to meet the needs of different programmes. These can include:
· A verification application to be used for monitoring purposes or in the context of a “Pay-for-results” programme;
· A reporting application (via sms or phone call) for households to provide ongoing information on latrines that have already been tagged (e.g. with information on needs for latrine maintenance or emptying needs).
These applications can be combined in different ways depending on the context and functionalities needed and who might use the tools.
Who will benefit from the app?
The application will enable a more robust tracking of household investments and spending on sanitation.
As such, it will benefit governments, sanitation programme managers from NGOs and donors, as well as sanitation service providers, by providing more robust data collection methods with greater accuracy, timeliness and verifiability, and lower costs of data verification and correction.
The data generated by these applications could be used by different actors in many different ways:
· By governments and donors, for data monitoring and analysis such as:
o To track how much households are investing in on-site sanitation and for what type of facilities
o To support low-income households in building their own latrines and design related financing strategies
o To evaluate the effectiveness of sanitation programmes and their associated financial strategies and provide evidence on the extent to which the programs that they have supported (or not) have had a positive impact on household investment.
· By programme managers – for evaluation and independent verification in the context of Output-Based Aid programmes that reward service providers for delivering sanitation promotion and sanitation marketing strategies that result in an increase in households’ investment in sanitation. Through the data collection app, service providers will collect data on latrines built in order to claim the results-based payment. The Independent Verification Agent will then use the verification application to verify that facilities have indeed been built (based on a sample) and authorize payment.
· By sanitation service providers (such as latrine builders or latrine emptiers), to understand the size of the market and potential needs. These providers could collect this information (via a specially built dashboard) to better manage their customer relationships and build better development strategies. Such information would help them understand which latrines might need emptying or repairing in a given area and help them plan their emptying trips in a more optimal manner. This app would, in effect, help them build a “customer database”, which is a critical tool for delivering sanitation services. This information could also be useful to government agencies that want to define boundaries of licensed service areas for pit latrine emptiers for example.
Deployment of the app
Several projects have already expressed interest in testing such an application to collect and analyse data on household sanitation.
· In Ghana, CWSA, the Ghanaian authority responsible for rural water and sanitation supply itself is already using Akvo FLOW to monitor water points and budget has been allocated in the SAWISTRA programme, a € 92 million programme which will operate in four regions of Ghana and will be funded by the European Investment Bank, Agence Française de Développement, European Union and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to tailor this for sanitation, so as to better track household investment in sanitation (which will be promoted and supported through the programme). It will be used to verify the performance of service providers and evaluate total investments in household sanitation.
· In Ghana as well, the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs is conducting an ex-ante evaluation of the Ghana-Netherlands Water and Sanitation Program they are funding. This is a € 150 Million Program focused on urban sanitation. The donors have allocated some funding to the use of mobile phone technologies for data collection and monitoring in this program.
· In Bangui, Central Africa Republic, GPOBA (a World Bank trust fund) will be funding an USD 5 Million OBA program for sanitation. The GPOBA program managers were very favourable to use this tool for data collection and for the verification process of the outputs. The app (referred to as “Upraise-my-loo” at the time) was referred to in the Commitment Paper that was approved for funding by GPOBA in December 2012.
· In Tanzania, SHARE and WaterAid are implementing a program to support and research the development of sanitation microfinance. The application could be used to assess the impact of the program on household investment in sanitation.