• IQC Success Factors for WASH and WRM projects

    How successful has your implementation been?

Use these seven factors to measure your success (click to expand):



    Understand the context of your project and it‘s target group and evaluate the implications for your project.

    A thorough understanding of the context of your project and the adequate, upfront consultation and involvement of the target group is key to achieving sustainable project outcomes. Socio-economic factors, capacities and the institutional framework at the local level will largely determine what types of projects are feasible and will generate added value for the local community.

    What are the WASH and WRM needs of your target group?

    Establish if the scope of the project actually addresses real needs and if priorities are set to maximise benefits for the target group. Do not rely on your assumptions of what is needed but engage with your target group and analyse how they deal with water and/or sanitation.

    Use IQC Tool Needs assessment.

    Which stakeholders need to be engaged?

    Study who is interested in your intervention and who will be impacted by it. Make sure you take relationships and local dynamics into account and that you do not exclude anybody at an early stage. Use this process to develop a better understanding of the key challenges and expectations of different stakeholders.

    Use IQC Tool Stakeholder mapping.

    What is the best-suited project option?

    Analyse existing WASH and WRM practices, infrastructure, cultural and physical environment at the project site to assess the feasibility of different project options and adapt the project to the local context. Use direct observations and interviews with community members!

    Use IQC Tool Exploring project options and specifying project objectives.

    What capacity gaps exist regarding O&M and follow-up after project completion? Understand the stakeholders’ capacities as a basis to design sustainable projects that can be maintained effectively. Identify which capacities are required during project implementation and follow-up as well as the actual capacities of the project stakeholder. Compare the required and existing capacities to draw conclusions for the project design and implementation.

    Use IQC tool Capacity assessment for project follow-up.

    Is it clear who takes over which responsibilities throughout the project?

    Clarify and transparently coordinate which stakeholder takes responsibility for which project tasks. In this process you need to avoid that official mandates are undermined or conflicts arise. As part of this step you should also establish consensus about responsibilities for required follow-up or O&M after project completion.

    Use IQC tool Assigning roles and responsibilities.

    Is there a clear exit strategy and sufficient ownership to apply it?

    Encourage the target group to participate in the project to increase their sense of responsibility. Use a participatory process to establish an exit strategy and formalize / approve the role of the target group.

    Use IQC tool Exit strategy & creating project ownership.

    Related Tools

    • Needs assessment
    • Stakeholder mapping
    • Site visit and exploring project options
    • Capacity assessment for project follow-up
    • Assigning responsibilities
    • Exit strategy and creating project ownership




    Inform and engage authorities to anchor your project in the sector plans and increase accountability.

    WASH and WRM projects are usually executed over a fixed period and within certain cost and other limitations. Government on the other hand is the ultimate duty bearer when it comes to water supply and sanitation services and comprises legitimate institution for resolving water disputes, regulating water allocation and ensuring a sustainable overall development of the water sector. Since WASH and WRM projects should aim to contribute sustainably to improved water management practices or service delivery it is key to establish clear links to those institutions mandated to ensure the required follow-up to a given project after its completion.

    How and where does your project fit within the regional development plans/strategies?

    Consult the development plans (or equivalent document) in a given region to clarify your role in the local water sector, to establish links between your projects and official targets for WASH and WRM, to find more support and advice from responsible authorities, to coordinate tasks and avoid conflicts. This process may foster interesting collaborations.

    Use IQC tool Consult development plans in a region.

    Are expectations and responsibilities among the implementing organization and local government clarified in an MoU?

    Establish clarity on expectation around the project at an early stage of the project. A related MoU or other type of agreement with the responsible government agency helps preventing conflicts, building trust and leaving less room for misinterpretation.

    Use IQC tool Establish a MoU with the local government.

    Related Tools

    • Consult development plans in the region (of WSBs)
    • Establish a MoU with the local government


    Ensure quality and compliance of your WASH or WRM project.

    Laws, regulations and sector guidelines establish legal requirements for different types of water related activities with the aim to ensure sustainable water management. Moreover, implementing organisations engage in project related agreements that establish obligations towards different types of partners and contractors. To avoid projects undermining sector governance and to ensure legally compliant practices it is key to use consolidated compliance controls that ensure that all necessary governance requirements can be met without the unnecessary duplication of efforts.

    Do you have a comprehensive overview of all contractual obligations in this project?

    Check all contracts and agreements linked to your project and list the responsibilities of the different stakeholders (including yours!). The resulting summary of obligations serves two purposes: to help you fulfil your responsibilities, and to control that the other parties comply with agreement related to this project.

    Use IQC tool Establish an overview of contractual obligations.

    Do you comply with all needed standards, approvals, permits and licences required for your project?

    It is compulsory to identify and comply with the required standards, approvals, permits and licences relevant to your project.  Incorporate required approvals in you project planning. Once you have obtained the approvals, permits and licences it is important to keep records and copies in a safe place.

    Use IQC tool Establish required standards, approvals, permits and licenses.

    Related Tools

    • Establish an overview of contractual obligations
    • Check for standards, approvals, permits and licenses


    Clarify tasks, responsibilities and budgets and make related information transparently available.

    Project planning is an essential part of project management, which relates to the use of schedules and financial management tools to plan and subsequently report progress within the project environment. Since the success of WASH and WRM projects depends on external stakeholders the implementing organization has to engage or at least inform the target group and other key actors in this planning process.

    Did you establish a plan to coordinate project tasks and monitor progress?

    Establish an implementation plan and progress monitoring for your project. In doing so key steps include the listing of activities and establishing the respective budgets, defining outputs and monitoring responsibilities as well as eventually progress reporting. The implementation plan should be designed to enable you to monitor whether the project is on track during its implementation. You can also use it to justify an operating budget request.

    Use IQC tool establish an implementation plan and progress monitoring.

    Related Tools

    • Establish an implementation plan and progress monitoring
    • Planning and managing project finances
    • Establish terms for O&M/follow-up

    Inform communities about project budget and objectives

    Do you record financial data in a sorted and classified system and do you establish financial statements for your project?

    By tracking and controlling expenditures you can keep project finances under control. Establish a detailed project budget calculation and setup a system for detailed project accounting to ensure sound financial management throughout the project. Such a system will also allow you to display your commitment to transparency, establish credibility, and foster confidence among your project’s stakeholders (MANGO 2012).

    Use IQC tool planning and managing project finances.

    Do you have clear descriptions/instructions for O&M requirements after the project completion?

    Already during the planning phase you should discuss operation and maintenance or other project follow-up requirements with those who will be responsible after the project completion to: ensure the functioning of the services and increase the sustainability of the investments made for the well-being of the target group. For this purpose you need to organize and plan O&M/follow-up by listing the required activities. Define who should do what, engage them and generate buy in and clear out financial implications for everybody.

    Use IQC tool establish terms for O&M/follow-up.

    Is the target group fully aware of the project, its the intended objectives and the available budget?

    Informing your project’s target group allows you to capture their concerns and generate feedback to improve the project design. This step is crucial to foster participation and eventually buy-in for your project. Moreover, transparent communication during the planning phase fosters trust and provides the basis to enable the target group to properly engage during the project implementation and follow-up. To achieve thi,s you should clearly establish what information should be communicated, with whom, how and when.

    Use IQC tool inform communities about project budget and objectives.

    Related Tools

    • Establish an implementation plan and progress monitoring
    • Planning and managing project finances
    • Establish terms for O&M/follow-up
    • Inform communities about project budget and objectives


    Ensure timely and compliant project implementation and monitor and control progress.

    Executing a project in the water and sanitation sector usually is a complex mission that requires the coordination of a wide range of activities, overseeing of a team, budget management, and communication to the public/target group, among other issues. Independent of whether it is a social project to raise the awareness and promote hygiene or it is a construction project for service delivery, there are certain management and oversight tasks that need to be in place during the implementation phase to facilitate a successful project.

    Do you specify implementation standards and requirements in calls and contracts related to your project?

    Provide clear and complete specifications and information about required standards when you tender work packages. Later on, you should include the specifications in the contract(s) with third parties. The specifications in the call ensure transparency in the biding process and provide a basis for realistic proposals / bids.

    Use IQC tool specification of standards in calls and contracts

    Do you use a transparent tendering process to award contract(s) to the most suitable contractor?

    Tendering processes for construction work are particularly vulnerable to unethical conduct, as large sums of money can be involved (Transparency International 2010, p. 2). A structured tendering process helps to hamper unethical behaviour and/or poor construction work. For this purpose you initially have to define the type of tender procedure before establishing and sending an invitation for bids. Moreover, you need to define evaluation criteria for the proposals. After receiving all bids you should evaluate them against these criteria and award the contract accordingly.

    Use IQC tool structured tendering process.

    Does your contractor/consultant have all permits and approvals required for the assigned task?

    The purpose of a compliance check is to ensure that the contractors/consultants have the necessary permits and approvals to undertake their work, and so conform to existing regulations or laws. This can improve the outcome of the subcontracted work and prevent criminal misconduct. For this purpose you should identify all permits that your contractor needs. Before signing a contract the contractor should provide proof of all required permits. Keep copies and have the contractor sign that all permits were legally obtained.

    Use IQC tool compliance check of contractors/consultants.

    Do you have a technical expert who can ensure sound implementation of project activities or construction works?

    The technical monitoring of the project implementation helps you to ensure that project staff and contractors/consultants uphold the required standards and follow specifications. You need to identify a suitable person for monitoring and supervision. In case you work with contractors he/she should carry out a pre-analysis and clarify requirements and work plans with them. Throughout the project implementation regular field visits should be organized and documented to capture progress and unveil and reduce low quality of work.

    Use IQC tool technical monitoring of implementation.

    Did the responsible authority officially approve constructions/infrastructure works?

    An official approval protocol for constructions/infrastructure works confirms compliance with official standards and protocols and is a means for you to account for your project to the responsible government authority. To do so you need to contact the authority and arrange a meeting on the site, develop the text for the official approval protocol and ensure that technician checks the works prior to the signing.

    Use IQC tool official approval protocol of contractors’ work.

    Do you confirm that the project outputs (constructed infrastructure/delivered intervention) are fit for purpose?

    Measure the quality of services after completion of project works to confirm if e.g. infrastructure is functional and can be used to deliver the envisaged benefits (quality, quantity, convenience, continuity, health) to the target group. Clarify what needs to be measured or checked, carry out the tests and document the results.

    Use IQC tool measure quality of water and/or services after completion.

    Related Tools

    • Specification of standards in calls and contracts
    • Structured tendering process
    • Compliance check of contractors/consultants
    • Technical monitoring of implementation
    • Official approval protocol of contractors’ work
    • Measure quality of water and/or services after completion


    Take responsibility for long term benefits and/or properly functioning infrastructure.

    Generally, water and sanitation projects experience their most serious problems with operation and maintenance (O&M) and with cost recovery aspects. While there has been less attention the same applies to follow-up in capacity development, awareness or lobby and advocacy projects. Therefore, it is imperative to plan for O&M/project follow-up, with a planned withdrawal of your direct support as local ownership builds.

    Are all required O&M / follow-up responsibilities clearly assigned?

    To ensure that your project outputs (infrastructure, commitments for behaviour change, etc.) yield the envisaged benefits in the long-run, it is paramount that you discuss and establish an O&M/follow-up plan with those who will be responsible for the O&M/follow-up activities. Ideally this should be a continuation of the work to clarify terms and commitments for O&M/follow-up during the project planning. As part of this process you should establish when external services might be required and who could support those responsible/supply required materials.

    Use IQC tool support and monitoring implementation of operation & maintenance/follow-up activities.

    Are sufficient revenues for use, operation and maintenance of the project outputs generated and is an accounting system in place?

    If customers see what they are being charged for, they may be more likely to pay their bills. It also helps those responsible for the management of a water source as well as the users of the water source to detect and prevent dishonest activities (e.g. such as theft of money) related to financial management, the collection of service fees, etc.

    A clear establishment of fees or required contributions and a transparent accounting system are pre-requisites for cost recovery and sustainable project outcomes. You need a good estimate of the monthly costs to determine the tariff / fee structure or the required contributions from project stakeholders. Establish a sound billing and/or accounting system to increase financial accountability and transparency that ensures liquidity, so that O&M works or follow-up activities can be carried out whenever they are needed. For water supply tariffs you may need to get approval from the responsible public authority. Support the initial collection of tariffs.

    Use IQC tool establish fees and transparent accounting.

    Related Tools

    • Support & monitor implementation of operation and maintenance/project follow-up
    • Establish fees and transparent accounting


    Document and share project information and reflect on your practices to improve performance of future projects.

    An honest reflection on the success and failures within your projects and internal and external communication of progress and project outcomes provide the basis for both learning and accountability. While evaluations contribute identifying strength, weaknesses and achievements you should also keep stakeholders informed to create the opportunity to learn from their feedback and scrutiny.

    Are all relevant stakeholders informed about the status of the project implementation?

    You can build trust and good and transparent relationships with different project stakeholders, including the target community, county government or funders of the project through proper communication and information sharing. To do so, define what types of information you should share with whom and in in which format. Reporting to stakeholders helps them to stay informed as a basis to fulfil their responsibilities or contribute to the project.

    Use IQC tool communicating about project development to all stakeholders.

    Are the procedures, standards and indicators for reporting to your donor clear?

    You are accountable for the use of project funds to your donor. Reporting to funders is one way to give account for the use of project resources and at the same time a means to develop trust and possibly a longer-term relationship with your donor. Agree with your funder on the format and timing of the reports, develop the reports in a timely manner, document its dissemination and keep a copy in a safe place.

    Use IQC tool reporting to funder.

    Is a comprehensive evaluation of your project available or planned?

    A project evaluation assesses to which degree a project achieved its objectives and how efficient, effective and relevant an intervention was. The results of an evaluation are therefore very valuable, since they provide you with information how you can improve your project practices. You should start out by clarifying the purpose of the evaluation and selecting a good set of indicators that can be used to evaluate progress towards the project objectives and performance. On this basis you can collect information, write your assessment and communicate the findings both internally and to selected external stakeholder.

    Use IQC tool evaluation of projects.

    Related Tools

    • Support & monitor implementation of operation and maintenance/project follow-up
    • Establish fees and transparent accounting