Water for Life Sustainability Rating

Imagine what the world would look like if 100% of funds spent in the water and sanitation sector were used effectively. Wait, you say, that’s not happening now? Nope. Read on.

The Water for Life Rating (formerly called the Accountability Forum) is a rating of long-term sustainability for a Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) implementing organization. The overarching aim of the Water for Life Rating is to drive funding toward the most successful WASH programs by providing donors with independent expert opinions. In this way, the rating will also create an incentive for organizations to conduct routine post-project monitoring and evaluation of their own projects, encourage strong program implementation and provide an opportunity for implementing organizations to demonstrate that they are delivering on promises.

What’s unique about our process is that besides being a tangible way to bring accountability to international development projects, it provides the opportunity for peer-to-peer learning.

The problem we are trying to solve

About 50% of water systems and toilets fail within the first few years. These failure rates haven’t changed in the last 30 years (see Sad Stats). One reason water, sanitation, and hygiene infrastructure doesn’t work over time is that funding isn’t tied to performance.  And, the sector doesn’t have consistent performance standards that governments, donors, and development organizations can use to make better funding decisions.  Read a blog explaining the need for the Water for Life Rating here.

What we’ve done so far

In December 2011, we applied the Water for Life Rating process to COCEPRADIL, an organization based in Lempira, Honduras.  This offered an opportunity to test evaluation tools and methodology, as well as gather feedback from participants on the process. Read the first Water for Life Rating report here.

In May 2014, the organization El Porvenir in Nicaragua was rated. The report is in progress.

What’s next?

We are now ready to scale up the Water for Life Rating to be a service to the water, sanitation and hygiene sector. We will rate DSK, a Bangladeshi NGO, in April 2013.

Who will this help?

  • People lacking access to water & sanitation.  Increased accountability, and more targeted investments which will ultimately result in more effective and sustainable programming for poor communities, unlike the status quo, where 30-50% of water projects fail.
  • Donors, who will be able to use information provided by the Water for Life rating to target their funds towards high performing organizations
  • Humanitarian organizations, which can learn from each other and will be rewarded for facilitated sustainable WASH services.

Who is involved?

Water 1st International developed the concept for a Water for Life rating based on models of self-regulation through industry associations that have been created in other sectors. Improve International worked with Water 1st to facilitate the first Water for Life rating in Honduras in December 2011, and is leading the strategy for scaling it up.  Leading up to the evaluation in Honduras, many peer organizations, including Save the Children, Catholic Relief Services, the Global Water Challenge, Water For People, and Oxfam, helped develop the criteria to be used to evaluate long-term program effectiveness.

For more information

  • Water for Life Sustainability Rating Criteria and expectations used to develop the rating
  • The first Water for Life Rating report, click here.
  • A blog about the first Water for Life Rating, click here.
  • A blog explaining the need for the Water for Life Rating click here.
  • A video about the first Water for Life rating, click here.

Please contact us if you are interested in participating or being evaluated.

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