At Water Mission, we have long been committed to measuring the outputs of our work such as accessibility, safety, and sustainability of water and sanitation services. For over a year, we have been developing a new survey tool that will allow us to do what we’ve never done before… routinely measure the wide-ranging, transformational impacts of our work in communities.
After all, our work does not stop with water and sanitation! We know that God is transforming many aspects of people’s lives through Water Mission. For the first time, we have a tool that will allow us to measure these impacts, and therefore, routinely learn and improve our programs in response.
The name of this survey tool, the Restore Survey, stands for Routine Evaluation of Sustainability and Transformation. This survey tool measures the impact of our work across three key domains that enable a project to be sustainable and transformative in the long-term: management skills, community well-being, and WASH behaviors.
We are excited, first of all, about what this survey will tell us, and how this will help us learn and adapt to the opportunities and challenges presented by each unique community. At baseline, it will give us a snapshot of community characteristics related to management skills, community well-being, and WASH behaviors, helping us better understand a community from the first time we visit. This will enable better project planning and customization of our community development approach in each community.
As we use this survey at multiple times throughout a project’s lifetime, it will also allow us to evaluate changes experienced by community members as a result of a Water Mission project over time. Ultimately, it will help us understand the impacts of our work among people in the communities we serve, shed light on why some projects are more successful than others, and help us improve our programs.
We are also excited about how we will collect data using this survey. The Restore Survey is tablet-based and self-enumerated, allowing participants of all ages and education levels to respond anonymously and at their own pace. Survey statements are audio-recorded in the local language, and participants listen and respond to the statements using a tablet or smartphone.
The survey is set up for offline use in the field, allowing data to be collected, analyzed, and shared with community leaders all in the same community visit. The data is then uploaded to a cloud server via Wi-Fi for immediate use in country program offices and in Charleston.
In an effort to ensure this survey tool is accurate and reliable in each of the countries in which we work around the world, the multi-phase process for developing, validating, and testing this survey has taken place across seven countries (USA, Kenya, Uganda, Peru, Haiti, Indonesia, and Honduras), and has included the collection and analysis of over 1,400 user surveys.
We completed the final step of the survey validation and testing process in Indonesia in February. We spent two days in the Northern Sumatran community of Titi Papan, where 108 members of the community shared their experiences with us via the Restore Survey. On the afternoon of the second day, sitting cross-legged in a circle on the front porch of a community member’s home, we discussed the results of the survey with community leaders and the safe water committee.
We shared a graph of the results and discussed what this meant about the community strengths and areas that need improvement related to management, community well-being, and WASH behaviors. In this community, the survey score for handwashing was low and this concerned one of those in attendance at the meeting, a man named Erianto.
Erianto is a WASH promoter in Titi Papan and volunteers his time to teach his neighbors about the importance of safe water, proper sanitation, and handwashing with soap. He was concerned to see that the community scored low for handwashing, knowing the potential health impacts this could have in his community. He spoke with our Water Mission Indonesia community development team to discuss strategies for improving handwashing in Titi Papan, and Erianto walked away from that meeting with a plan and with the motivation to encourage handwashing with soap in his village.
This experience brings to life another key aspect of the survey: the importance of giving actionable data to decision makers within communities. Good information shared with local stakeholders in real time lets us celebrate areas of strength, encourages community ownership, builds capacity to create positive change, and highlights areas that still need improvement.
We have started the process of integrating this new survey tool into each country program. To learn more about our research initiatives, visit our research page.