Ensuring the delivery of services to ensure water and sanitation hygiene (WASH) is Africa’s largest challenge. Staggering rates of infant illness and mortality due to poor sanitation and hygiene present very significant challenges to human development across the continent. UNICEF and the Government of Zimbabwe (GoZ) sought to improve tracking, reporting and implementation of WASH programmes in 33 rural districts. Such surveys provided critical insights into how programmes can be strengthened and re-directed in order to ensure the outcomes that are desired. Without an accurate project baseline it is extremely difficult to assess effectiveness of support programmes, which ultimately can result in poor delivery and continued impact upon rural and marginalised communities.
To conduct a baseline survey to determine the existing status of water, sanitation and hygiene and establish qualitative and quantitative benchmarks in accordance with the Rural WASH logical framework, requires rigour and thorough preparation. It was essential to work closely with UNICEF and GoZ in ensuring that the survey would provide the baselines, benchmarks and metrics required. Open and ongoing communications and discussion during the preparation phase was essential. It was also critical to ensure that the team had the overall technical guidance and backstopping skills on the water sector and the content of the survey, whilst also having the skills and team to provide survey logistics and administration. This was further supported by enumerator training as well as ongoing support during the survey itself. Our technical insights into the design of the survey questionnaire and the provision of robust analysis was strengthened by iterative client engagement to ensure that the results would be of value to the client and would provide the required insights.