5 Ways for Funders to Improve their Impact Today

Editors Note: In this post, Brian Banks, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Global Water Challenge at the Global Environment & Technology Foundation, discusses five key ways that funders can use the new Water Point Data Exchange to improve the impact of their WASH investments.

WDPx

With the recent launch of the new web platform for the Water Point Data Exchange, many funders are wondering what this means for them and how they can use it to increase the impact of WASH investments. For those who aren’t yet familiar, the Water Point Data Exchange (WPDx) is the global framework for sharing water point data. Launched in May 2015, this framework is based on the information that is already being collected around the world, ensuring that there is no additional burden on data providers to share information. To date, WPDx has brought together nearly 250,000 records around the world spanning almost 100 years of investment. The new web platform makes it easier than ever for funders to access this data and use the information to improve the impact of their investments. Here are five ways you can start to use the new WPDx platform today:

  • Identify partners and local experts
    • By using WPDx to find who else has implemented projects in a certain area or country, you can easily identify partners for collaboration. This can help to avoid duplication and increase impact through partnerships that leverage the unique skills of different stakeholders. Information on who is working where can also be filtered by date so that you can identify what stakeholders have developed expertise over time in a specific location, or even those that were there in the past. Connecting with these partners can facilitate the sharing of lessons and challenges, allowing your funding to build off of the investments that have come before. You can see an example of the different groups that have shared data over time for Tanzania here.
  • Explore the sustainability of different types of investments
    • WPDx allows you to see what types of investments have worked well, and what types of investments have been less successful. This could even be as simple as comparing how well different types of technologies have provided water over time in a certain area. You can also use the WPDx data as a starting point, and compare the impact of different types of policies on sustainability, or even the durability of investments in areas with different geological and socioeconomic conditions. The recent integration of WPDx data into the World Bank’s “Spatial Agent” application allows you to easily and beautifully layer WPDx data directly onto thousands of different data sets. This makes it possible to draw an incredible wealth of lessons about what works well at the click of a button. You can download Spatial Agent here.
       
  • See where needs are the greatest
    • Through the data available in WPDx, funders can target investments to where the needs are greatest and define the type of investment that might be most effective. Does the region you want to fund have a low functionality rate? If so, perhaps your investment will go further by supporting governance, asset management, and maintenance capacity than it would drilling another borehole. Are almost all water points working in a certain area? That might suggest that additional hardware could achieve a lasting impact. You can see a breakdown of functionality by province in Afghanistan here.
       
  • Share your data (and track it)
    • Funders are making massive investments in water infrastructure. While those investments will certainly create change on their own, sharing the information about that infrastructure can allow for an even greater impact. By providing governments, NGOs, researchers, and other funders with information about water points constructed as a result of your investments, all development partners can work better together. Encouraging grantees to share water point data with governments and through WPDx is a quick and cost-effective way to multiply the influence of your funding. As an added benefit, you can subscribe to updates on these water points, and get a notification any time data about them is updated, even from different sources!
  • Engage with governments and other stakeholders
    • WPDx should be the start of a conversation, not the end. Discuss the information you got from WPDx with governments, service providers, NGOs, and other funders, and get their perspectives. Ultimately, WPDx is most effective when used as part of a broader engagement with all partners.