Review of the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Information System (SIASAR)

Sustainable Rural Water Supply and Sanitation (RWSS) services are relatively limited in the Latin America and Caribbean region, particularly in Central America. Public investment in the sector has generally been biased toward new infrastructure investments with little consideration of the costs of long-term operations and maintenance, or the capacity of local or municipal service providers to sustainably deliver WSS services. This situation is compounded by the lack of accurate, up-to-date and comprehensive information on the status of WSS provision in the region. Policymakers, national planners and sector professionals have little information to determine where needs lie and what priorities should guide sector policies and interventions. As a result, these are often biased in favour of infrastructure investments, with little consideration for the sustainability of the service providers who manage the physical water systems, or for the quality and coverage of the water service in the community.

The Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Information System (SIASAR) initiative was launched by the Governments of Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama in partnership with the World Bank in July 2011. This initiative emerged from the need for countries to count on systematic and reliable information and aimed at developing an Information and Communication Technology (ICT)-based monitoring and decision-making tool for the RWSS sub sector in Central America. The information system consists of an open-source web interface and a mobile application for RWSS data collection and analysis. In addition to tracking the physical condition of water systems, it also gathers data on access, service quality, and sustainability of service provision. In 2014, the member countries of the Central American and Dominican Republic Forum for Potable Water and Sanitation (FOCARD-APS by its Spanish acronym) officially adopted SIASAR as the harmonized regional information system for rural water and sanitation signing a Regional Agreement and Bylaws. Currently, SIASAR includes Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, The Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Oaxaca (Mexico), Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Ceará (Brazil) and Paraguay.

Since May 2013, EScGD has constantly accompanied SIASAR member countries in addressing some of the specific problems of the sector, which range from improving the availability of information, to improving access to information, and to encouraging the use of this information in decision-making. In this sense, EScGD has been involved in three different assignment aimed at developing and promoting SIASAR. First (May’13 – Dec’13), a review of the SIASAR’s technical content was carried out. Second (Apr’14 – Apr’15), recipient countries were supported to increase reliability and feasibility of SIASAR as an efficient tool to support operational, investment and policy decisions. Third (Jan’16 – Aug’17), member countries were supported to improve and expand the use of SIASAR as a decision-making tool.

 

Remarkable results have been translated into methodologies and tools which are combined to cover the whole of the foreseen work cycle, which can be summarized as follows:

  • Field data collection: i) definition and development of field protocols, household sampling methods and data validation processes, and ii) alignment of SIASAR and Sustainable Development Goal 6 on water and sanitation.
  • Data processing: design and development of the SIASAR conceptual framework, where all data collected is ordered and translated into useful information for monitoring and planning interventions in the RWSS sub sector.
  • Report generation: design and development of reports to facilitate information analysis by different users (from regional to local technical teams, sectoral experts, the public at large, etc.).
  • Use of information: capacity building and support member countries to integrate SIASAR as a baseline for their plans and projects.
  • Knowledge transfer: i) development of technical reports, and ii) publication of academic articles, such as the ones entitled “SIASAR: a country-led indicator framework for monitoring the rural water and sanitation sector in Latin America and the Caribbean” and “Bayesian network modelling of hierarchical composite indicators“.


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