Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development

Development of indicators for measuring outcomes of water safety plans

Gabriella Lockhart, William E. Oswald, Brian Hubbard, Elizabeth Medlin, Richard J. Gelting


Water safety plans (WSPs) are endorsed by the World Health Organization as the most effective method of protecting a water supply. With the increase in WSPs worldwide, several valuable resources have been developed to assist practitioners in the implementation of WSPs, yet there is still a need for a practical and standardized method of evaluating WSP effectiveness. In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a conceptual framework for the evaluation of WSPs, presenting four key outcomes of the WSP process: institutional, operational, financial and policy change. In this paper, we seek to operationalize this conceptual framework by providing a set of simple and practical indicators for assessing WSP outcomes. Using CDC's WSP framework as a foundation and incorporating various existing performance monitoring indicators for water utilities, we developed a set of approximately 25 indicators of institutional, operational, financial and policy change within the WSP context. These outcome indicators hold great potential for the continued implementation and expansion of WSPs worldwide. Having a defined framework for evaluating a WSP's effectiveness, along with a set of measurable indicators by which to carry out that evaluation, will help implementers assess key WSP outcomes internally, as well as benchmark their progress against other WSPs in their region and globally.

  • drinking water
  • evaluation
  • indicators
  • outcomes
  • water safety plans
  • Received March 20, 2013.
  • Accepted August 2, 2013.