Oct 07, 2010

Water For People Hosts First Accountability Summit at WEFTEC

Organization hopes to demonstrate commitment to transparency and measurable results

Water For People hosted its first Accountability Summit during WEFTEC.10, held in New Orleans. CEO Ned Breslin invited peer organizations, donors and stakeholders to view Water For People’s data, discuss its implications and ask tough questions about the organization’s work.

“We are putting our data out for all to see, not just to be accountable, but also because we see value in learning from the questions that others might have for us,” Breslin said. “That’s why we have evolved into a data-driven organization. We collect data on hundreds of water and sanitation projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and through this process, our work will continually improve.”

The event featured talks by industry luminaries Jeanette Brown, president, board of trustees, Water Environment Federation (WEF) and Bill Bertera, executive director of WEF.

“The Accountability Summit was a huge success. We discussed real data, long-term results and good ideas to improve Water For People’s work in water and sanitation,” Breslin said. “The words transparency and sustainability are sector buzzwords that carry no water. We are working to change that! To determine success, Water For People will publicly display all project data–good and bad–as we monitor our work for 10 years after project completion using a new visual open-source data monitoring database. We believe we can only say our work is sustainable if we demonstrate that water is flowing and people are using toilets and washing hands in all programs across the organization, all the time. It is not truly transparent if we cherry-pick stories and only portray small samples of data.”

The data presented at the Accountability Summit is the result of annual monitoring yielding data and analysis that allows the organization to better evaluate its own work, share results with partners, donors and governments, and influence partners toward best practices. This data supports one of Water For People’s strategic goals, which is to move beyond annual beneficiary numbers as the only measure of impact. Instead, the organization plans to demonstrate that at least 90% of Water For People-supported systems are sustained over time, as shown by evaluation and monitoring at 3-, 6-, and 10-year intervals after system inauguration.