Today, senior monitoring managers from two of the world’s biggest water NGOs, WaterAid and Water.org, met for the first time — collaborating in WaSH data brought them together.
WaterAid’s Erik Harvey and Water.org’s Heather Arney took a break from World Water Week in Stockholm today to talk data. A meeting like this used to be a threat to organizations. In traditional funding models, organizations should set themselves apart from each other in order to “compete” for funds. And yet, by choosing mWater, a collaboration-focused software for water and sanitation M&E, the two organizations are cost sharing their software budgets to maximize their impact in the world.
In this pervasively networked, porous, flat, borderless world collaboration is the new competition. More is gained from networking and sharing flows of information than by walling oneself in a silo.
Beyond maximizing efficiency and impact of their data, these organizations have turned their internal software budgets, otherwise known as overhead costs, into another engine of the aid they provide to the world. Data aid.
Over 4,000 governments, organizations, communities, and researchers in 59 countries use mWater to #mapWaSH for free. They have access to high quality, specialized software for water and sanitation monitoring that would otherwise be out of their budget without this model. They also have access to each other’s data that has been made public — making collaborations possible where competition would have been the norm.
Also in this model is the rare exit strategy for aid organizations — a future hand-off to the local governments where they work. If the platform is interoperable between organizations and the data is open for everyone to use and update, then the governments can begin in increments to take control of the data part of managing water and sanitation programs themselves.
This is mWater’s ultimate goal.
Tomorrow at World Water Week (Wednesday morning, 11am), four organizations that have collaborated in creating mWater’s global M&E platform will present their experiences. WaterAid and Water.org will talk about why they picked this path, the challenges they encountered in managing digital data and implementing mobile data collection, and how they are now scaling globally. The Water Trust and the Millennium Water Alliance will also talk about the real world issues faced every day in the process of using mWater: planning a digital M&E strategy, training staff to move from paper to mobiles, implementation throughout levels and regions in the organization, and responding to the results generated from the data.
Take the leap from competing with your fellow aid agencies to collaborating with them in water and sanitation data.