Sector Results and Learning:
Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene

This Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (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 recent and relevant evaluations, includes all agency lessons from completed WASH evaluations to-date, and links to learning that has been aggregated across completed evaluations in the sector.

What Do We Invest In?

MCC has funded $1.1 billion in WASH interventions as of March 2022. These interventions fall into the following categories: water infrastructure; sanitation and/or wastewater infrastructure; hygiene and other training; and drainage infrastructure; 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 for each program and country context. Within these country-specific plans, MCC uses common indicators 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 June 2022.

73,116

individuals trained in social and behavior change 

32,831

sanitation facilities constructed

1,661

kilometers of water pipelines constructed or replaced

220

millions of liters per day of water production capacity added

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 also produce evidence and learning to inform future programming. They investigate the quality of project implementation, the achievement of the project objective and other targeted outcomes, 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 April 2022. Read on to see highlights of 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, survey materials, and data sets.

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

Highlighted Evaluations

Two large water tanks behind fencing.

March 17, 2022 | Sierra Leone Threshold Program

Reforming the water sector in Sierra Leone

Water utility’s capacity increased, but financial performance is low

  • Evaluation Type: Multiple
  • Evaluation Status: Interim

MCC’s $40.5 million Sierra Leone Threshold Program (2016–2021) focused on establishing a foundation for the effective and financially viable provision of electricity and water services in Freetown. The $13.6 million Water Sector Reform Project (WSRP) aimed to improve sector coordination, strengthen commercial practices and enhance the Guma Valley Water Company’s (Guma) service provision. The $7.6 million Regulatory Strengthening Project (RSP) aimed to build the capacity of the new regulator, improve sector governance and support the long-term financial sustainability of the water sector.

Read Evaluation Details or the Evaluation Brief

A Jack resident transporting water from the communal kiosk

July 28, 2020 | Zambia Compact

Improving Peri-Urban Water Access in Lusaka, Zambia

Water access improves in peri-urban area of Lusaka but remains uneven

  • Evaluation Type: Performance
  • Evaluation Status: Final

MCC’s $355 million Zambia Compact (2013–2018) supported private sector engagement in the water supply sector through the $6 million Innovation Grant Program. As a program grantee, MECB implemented the Smart Safe Water Supply Scheme Scaling-Up project, which aimed to save women’s time and reduce incidence of waterborne diseases for the target population by providing a reliable source of high-quality water.

Read Evaluation Details or the Evaluation Brief

Bridge over the Mazyopa drain

July 27, 2020 | Zambia Compact

Improving Water and Sanitation in Zambia

Use of grants to spur innovation required mid-course adaptations

  • Evaluation Type: Performance
  • Evaluation Status: Final

MCC’s $355 million Zambia Compact (2013–2018) was designed to increase residents’ access to water, sanitation, and drainage services and improve infrastructure and state capacity in these sectors. The Zambia Compact funded the $6 million Innovation Grant Program, an initiative to support innovative opportunities and partnerships in the water, sanitation, and solid waste management sectors. The program awarded five grants during grant cycle 1 (starting in November 2015) and nine grants during grant cycle 2 (beginning in November 2016).

Read Evaluation Details or the Evaluation Brief

May 16, 2019 | Tanzania Compact

Improving Water Supply in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Infrastructure investments improved reliability and quality of piped water

  • Evaluation Type: Multiple
  • Evaluation Status: Final

MCC’s $695 million Tanzania Compact (2008-2013) funded the $39.9 million Lower Ruvu Plant Expansion Activity in Dar es Salaam, which was part of the $54.6 million Water Sector Project (WSP). The objective of the project was to increase investment in human and physical capital and reduce prevalence of water-related diseases. The activity aimed to increase production and quality of water in Dar es Salaam by rehabilitating the Lower Ruvu (LR) Water Treatment Plant (WTP). The activity increased water production by 50% with the plant producing 270 million liters per day (MLD).

Read Evaluation Details or the Evaluation Brief

Go to our Evaluation Brief page to see all completed WASH sector evaluations

What Have We Learned from Our Results?

To link the evidence from 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.

  • Carefully consider the costs and benefits of a grant facility as opposed to other implementation modalities in order to achieve project objectives.

    Carefully consider the costs and benefits of a grant facility as opposed to other implementation modalities in order to achieve project objectives. Given the limited time and resources available during the five-year period of the compact, introducing a grant facility, in addition to the standard contracts that are issued by MCAs, requires dedicating additional staff time and attention to a second implementation modality. This may be justified if the grant facility is the best way to achieve the objective of the project, but a clear justification for a grant approach should be laid out and the administrative mechanisms and costs clearly defined. In addition, as with contracting, the work of establishing a grant facility, operations manual and selection of grantees should be front-loaded at the beginning of the compact to maximize the time for implementation. Finally, the issue of sustainability of grant operations needs to be carefully considered; the work of awarding grants may not be justified if the benefits and/or operations of grantee work cannot continue without ongoing support postcompact. MCC is addressing this lesson by convening discussions across the agency to undertake a holistic review of experiences with administering grant facilities within its compacts.

  • Evaluations of grant facilities pose unique challenges for evaluations and may require a different approach for evaluation design.

    Evaluations of grant facilities pose unique challenges for evaluations and may require a different approach for evaluation design. Some grant facilities fund multiple disparate and geographically dispersed interventions that link only indirectly to a broader set of program objectives, and as with IGP, often include designs that were proposed or decided upon only after a compact has begun implementation. This leaves evaluators with a limited amount of time between grant signing and the start of
    implementation for designing a prospective evaluation and conducting baseline studies. In addition, data quality often varies between grantees, and can complicate an evaluator’s ability to verify details on implementation milestones and outputs achieved based on MCA’s monitoring data or documentation. Finally, given the fixed costs of conducting an evaluation, it may not be cost-effective to evaluate many individual grant interventions.

  • 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.

  • 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.

How Have We Aggregated Learning Across the Sector?

MCC has developed a Principles into Practice paper using evidence from completed independent evaluations in the WASH sector Principles into Practice: Lessons from Evaluations of MCC Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) Programs. The Principles into Practice series offers a frank look at what it takes to make the principles MCC considers essential for development operational in the projects in which MCC invests. The learning captured in this paper informs MCC’s ongoing efforts to refine and strengthen its own model and development practice in the WASH sector. MCC hopes this paper will also allow others to benefit from, and build upon, MCC’s lessons.