Why do an assessment?
There are a number of reasons why a WASH team may need to carry out an assessment. Usually this relates to the need to get information on the state ofsanitation and waste management in a particular town or part of a city and have the ‘facts on hand’ to inform others (particularly political leaders and community members) as they make action plans for improvements.
The assessment can also be used as a monitoring exercise to provide a quick overview of how an urban community has been using its sanitation facilities and waste management system. This could be used to identify the individuals or groups of people who are at the greatest risk of harm from poor WASH practices.
Assessments are also used to help plan WASH facilities in an emergency situation: after a mass movement of people to a refugee camp, for example, or while recovering from a natural disaster. You will learn more about emergency WASH in Study Session 14.
Note that the assessments discussed in this study session are classed as ‘rapid’. This is because they are intended to provide a quick view of the situation and to identify the key areas for immediate action. In the longer term, it is important to assess the effectiveness of any WASH programme. An initial assessment might be done before the start of the programme to find out the baseline position (the situation before any improvement programmes are implemented). This would be followed by further assessments during and at the end of the programme to determine its progress. Finally, an assessment carried out some time after the end of the active phase of the programme would help to determine any long-term benefits achieved. This type of longer-term assessment is part of the more rigorous process of ‘monitoring and evaluation’, which you will learn about in Study Session 15.