This article discusses the present Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) that tells us about Drinking Water and Sanitation Status in a particular country. It has been observed that the estimation methodology or monitoring strategy of JMP needs to be thoroughly reviewed, given that there are no exclusive surveys carried out for Water and Sanitation purpose in the countries across the world. This article discusses the methodology JMP adopts and the way forward by siting the example of water and sanitation monitoring in India.
The JMP (Joint Monitoring Programme) for Water Supply and Sanitation serves as the official mechanism of the United Nations for monitoring access to drinking-water and sanitation, and for reporting globally on the status of Drinking-Water and Sanitation coverage.
The coverage estimates are used to measure progress towards MDG Target 7c, “To halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking-water and basic sanitation”
The JMP source says that “Currently the JMP database includes 729 nationally representative household surveys and 152 Censuses. Almost all of these come from developing regions and to a lesser extent from the Commonwealth of Independent States. Since a census in many developed countries is no longer used to collect information on water and sanitation, the JMP largely relies on administratively reported data for the developed countries. The JMP database currently includes 318 administratively reported data for developed countries.”
After doing a thorough analysis of the monitoring mechanism process of JMP that reports country progress on water and sanitation we find that there are areas of further improvement in JMP mechanism to make it more accurate and robust monitoring programme.
For this purpose we took example from India on JMP mechanism. In India, as in other parts of the world, JMP process reports the progress of safe drinking water provisions and basic sanitation facilities under MDGs (Millennium Development Goals) framework. Here in India, the JMP rely at two sources or rather one source of information’s i.e. NFHS / DHS (National Family Health Survey).
For rural areas officially the data is collected by the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) of Government of India for Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation, and for urban areas- Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD). The second source of information is the data provided under DHS (National Family Health Survey-NFHS), which comes in the purview of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) of Government of India. Here, JMP uses the second source of information. Therefore, this source could be termed as ‘administratively reported data’ source from Government as per JMP’s definition.
However, the former sources of information- MoRD / MoUD, which they carry through their respective monitoring divisions, have various collection, monitoring and validation glitches. So this data needed cautious consideration before adopting to report countrywide progress on the coverage of water supply and sanitation and usually not much in use. Also, this data is not used by JMP for country progress on water and sanitation.
The subsequent source of information is NFHS (also known as DHS), which has a robust mechanism of data collection, validation and reporting.
However, the focus of NFHS is Health and Family planning and so it is more skewed toward health related data collection.
So, when applying the data collected through NFHS, scientifically we need to be very sure to understand that how much importance has been given to the information elicited on drinking water and sanitation in this ‘Health Survey’. As the whole process of study/research methodology i.e. sampling design, population coverage, sample size, study tools, etc. look in to the issues of Health, Family Planning and HIV Aids primarily.
Here, we concluded that, one need to closely compare the general ‘core questions provided on drinking-water and sanitation’ for household surveys under JMP guidelines and Water and Sanitation related tools provided in NFHS, and also review scientifically the study methodology of NFHS. In this case these questions need more probing and the sampling should consider water and sanitation among primary focus.
From a thorough review we find that in NFHS / DHS, the sampling design provides estimates for demographic and health indicators and not on water supply and sanitation (Read note at the end of this article about the focus of NFHS). The determination of the overall sample size is also governed by the magnitude of the key indicators, the desired level of precision of the estimates, etc.. So, it is more about producing population and health indicators at both the national and state/province levels. This is the major limitations of NFHS or DHS data, which, at present is being used under JMP to show progress of a country on MDG target 7c.
We also find that the appropriate probing of questions is another issue in NFHS /DHS survey, as one can’t be sure, whether enough probing or questions are incorporated to elicit detailed information about drinking water and sanitation status.
Therefore, it is recommended that JMP should make use of surveys exclusively carried out to assess the water and sanitation coverage in developing countries, to have accurate evidences on the achievements in Water Supply and Sanitation coverage. This will not only help the country Governments for better planning but also helping our communities in better access to these services. The NFHS/DHS data could be taken as cursory assessment, but not as full fledge reliable data source on of a country’s situation in water and sanitation coverage.
What is NFHS/DHS: The NFHS survey, provides information on population, health and nutrition in India and each of its 29 states. The survey is based on a sample of households which is representative at the national and state levels. NFHS-3 provided trend data on key indicators and includes information on several new topics, such as HIV/AIDS-related behaviour and the health of slum populations, men and unmarried women, HIV prevalence. About-NFHS-DHS