PWX MetriX Released!
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Peer Water Exchange releases PWX MetriX: define and track sustainability indicators easily.

15 May 2013

Peer Water Exchange's latest offering to the WASH sector -- PWX MetriX -- provides the WASH sector, for the first time, the ability to easily measure and track operations and outcomes over time.

We know things change and sometimes stop working. The users change over time due to people's habits and movement. The supply of water and its quality change due to usage, seasons, and other environmental factors. Pumps break down. The picture at the ribbon-cutting ceremony does not represent reality for all time. To verify that the project is operating as planned, or partially operating until fixed, or something else, we need to track some project-specific indicators over time. The WASH sector has lacked the ability to easily track several diverse indicators over time, simultaneously across multiple projects. Until now.

PWX MetriX allows each project to choose an appropriate set of metrics to track and provides an easy way to enter data even by field staff. The PWX android app will be updated to help with entering of individual data points soon. We plan to create a reminder system (using email and SMS) to help ensure that staff measure and enter data regularly (each metric can have its own measuring frequency).

Project Operations: Tracking A Diverse Set Of Indicators

Long-time PWX member, Project Well, has been tracking many indicators at differing frequencies for all their projects. Below is a snapshot of their live graph showing the number of users at one their many arsenic-free dug-wells.

Clearly one of the best uses of PWX MetriX is to identify missing data or inconsistent data needing to be fixed. Organizations can use PWX MetriX to improve their internal process for collecting data.

Another metric tracked by Project Well is the amount of chlorine supplied to the community for regular purification of their drinking water supply. Below is a snapshot of the chlorine supplied at another of their projects.

Project Well's Executive Director Dr. Meera Hira-Smith -- who is also a researcher at the Arsenic Health Studies Research Group, University of California, Berkeley -- insists on tracking several indicators to see the sustainability of their projects and what can be learned from changes in patterns over time. Project Well field staff monitor monthly (at the beginning) and then quarterly:

  • Number of Users (Individual and Family)
  • Height of Water Column in well
  • Taste
  • Use (Drinking, Cooking, Bathing, Irrigation, Not Used)
  • Odour (shown below as part of the data collected for a third community)
  • Water Clarity
  • Amount of Chlorine Supplied
  • Arsenic (measured less frequently since the test is expensive but still two samples at a time)

The arsenic tests are done in the summer months when the concentration is at its highest. Analysis is done at the lab using a rigorous process:
  • Water samples are collected in duplicate in bottles provided by the lab
  • Cryptic codes are used on the bottles so the lab is blind to the duplicates
  • After receiving the reports the results are entered by staff in excel
  • Dr. Hira-Smith processes the results that included matching the codes with the source and calculating the average of the two samples per source.

Seeing the data for her projects go up on the website makes Hira-Smith extremely happy with PWX MetriX: "Thank you, PWX, for developing such a wonderful program. Hope that people will start using it because it makes sense to see how the arsenic levels (as in this case) reduces with age or does it increases due to shortage of rainfall. The ability to see maps and graphs is great for me, but i am also very happy that now the field staff can enter data directly easily and the system updates graphs in real-time. The old process of using forms that got entered into spreadsheets, and then consolidated, and then graphed was extremely tedious, time-consuming, and error-prone. Now we can far more quickly focus on acting on the data in front of us. Thanks again to PWX for helping in developing transparency at the grass-root level."

Tracking Planning and Implementation

One use of PWX MetriX is to plan project activity and then measure the progress against the plan. The graphs combined with contextual field notes then provide a reality check and help both planning and execution.

One visible example is with the eco-san toilet project done by our partner Shohratgarh Environmental Society (SES). A plan to construct 10 toilets is graphed along with the actual construction activity. When combined with a step-by-step log of all activity (using web and sms), the viewer has a full visual and in-depth account of the implementation history. The implementer's management and staff can easily track their project's progress and learn better planning for the next time. The funder then requires nothing more than audited financials (most of the expenses are tracked and documented in the field notes).

Is Sustainability Important? Is Learning Important?
Let us track and verify to see how projects are really operating and share ...

Finally the WASH sector has a platform for everyone to use to track any type of indicator - number or opinion -- for any length of time -- short-term study or long-term evaluation -- easily.

Rajesh Shah says: "PWX is designed to track a diverse set of WASH projects collaboratively and sustainably and PWX MetriX is the latest innovation on the most-experienced platform in the sector. If people want to track results and share and learn, PWX is the platform and process for you. Yes, it requires discipline and real courage to even face actual outcomes, but that is the only way to get to our shared goal of eliminating the water and sanitation crises."

Our SANtraX demo was a step towards towards the full release of PWX MetriX. Now that we have released PWX MetriX, we look forward to helping agencies to manage their toilet (or any other WASH) services.

Even researchers and analysts can find PWX MetriX to be their source of data. For example, Project Well's data can be used to demonstrate the validity of the water person years concept formulated by the Fontes Foundation.

PWX offers a customizable and growing list of metrics which project managers can choose from to track at each site in their projects.

The future is very bright as we see the combination of PWX AnalytiX and PWX MetriX and android field devices powering a resurgence of investment resulting in increased impact by the WASH sector.

PWX MetriX was made possible by a generous grant by the Cisco Foundation.
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