Announcing the WPdx Monitoring, Evaluation, Adapting and Learning (MEAL) Guide

The WPdx Data Standard was created in 2015 by an expert working group and defines a set of basic parameters that should be collected when gathering water point data. The Standard was designed to accept data from a variety of formats to compile a global dataset of water point records. That said, one of the challenges in compiling data from a variety of sources is transforming the different datasets to use a uniform set of terms and categories to ensure the final dataset is consistent and analysis-ready. The Standard allows for open text responses, which means that substantial data cleaning is necessary to create a dataset that is consistently formatted for analysis. WPdx automates this cleaning process using a combination of pre-defined categories, natural language processing (NLP) and detailed reviews, but recognizes that there is the potential for error and misinterpretation. 

The purpose of a data standard is to ensure not only that the right parameters are collected, but that data is collected in a way which is consistent and comparable with data from other organizations and collection efforts. WPdx created a new Monitoring, Evaluation, Adapting, and Learning (MEAL) Guide as an annex to the WPdx User Guide to reflect recent updates to the WPdx Data Standard, which defines both the standard parameters and provides a suite of recommended responses. The WPdx platform will continue to clean and categorize data as needed, but recommends that this document and its associated parameters and responses be used by entities as the minimum required during data collection efforts.

A simple example which demonstrates the needs for this process is a potential set of entries provided under the #water_tech parameter, which describes the system being used to transport water from the source to the point of collection. A common entry for this parameter is a hand pump, and one common manufacturer of hand pumps is Afridev. Depending on the organization collecting data, datasets uploaded to WPdx to describe an Afridev hand pump might include Afridev Handpump, Afridev hand pump, HP – AfriDev, Afri Dev pump, Afri Ev, etc.

In order to make this information analysis-ready, the terms above must be translated into a consistent format. The table below provides a sample of common entries received and how they appear in the WPdx dataset. 

Table 1. Examples of how #water_tech entries are transformed to #water_tech_clean


Common entries received for Afridev Hand Pump


Amended entry on WPdx







Hand pump – Afridev


Afridev Handpump
AfriDev Handpump
Hand Pump Afridev
Aferdive pump
Afridev, Hand pump
Hand pump Afridev

Undetectable errors and discrepancies during the data cleaning process may impact the results of predictive analyses like the WPdx Decision Support Tools. If there is a collective interest in having data compiled for analysis, it is imperative to adopt standard parameters and responses across organizations. The WPdx MEAL Guide is a tool for partner organizations to reference during the design of data collection surveys or after data collection but prior to upload to the WPdx platform, so that those most familiar with the data can ensure it is interpreted accurately during the data cleaning process. 

Please review the WPdx User Guide and the MEAL Guide annex to understand the recommended standardized responses for inclusion when developing a survey for both required and optional parameters from the WPdx Data Standard.

Questions and Feedback

Please reach out to for more information.

Interested in sharing data with WPdx? Please see here for more details.

Tutorial: Applications of the WPdx Decision Support Tools

We are excited to share two new resources exploring applications of the WPdx Decision Support Tools app:

  1. A detailed written tutorial with pictures describing how to use each tool by examining a sample case in Farta, Ethiopia
  2. A slide deck tutorial explaining potential use cases for each decision support tool using an example in Kabarole, Uganda

Both resources also reference video tutorials published on the new WPdx YouTube Channel.

The WPdx Decision Support Tools interactive web app allows users to view and explore available water point data and results from the WPdx+ dataset and suite of decision-support tools, including:

  • Administrative Region Analysis
  • Rehabilitation Priority Analysis
  • Service Gap Identification Analysis
  • Data Quality Score
  • Status Prediction Analysis (BETA)

The Status Prediction Analysis is the newest tool in the WPdx Decision Support Tools suite. The tool is currently in the beta testing phase. However, it has functional predictions and our team is actively working with our partners at DataRobot to continutally improve the accuracy and reliability of these predictions.

Both tutorials provide an introduction to each of the tools in the WPdx Decision Support Tools suite through specific use case examples. Users will learn how to:

  1. Navigate each of the decision support tools.
  2. Filter to an organization or area of interest.
  3. Explore multiple use cases for each tool.
  4. Interpret the results for each tool.
  5. Export the results for external use.

Review the WPdx User Guide for information about how to use the entire WPdx platform.

Questions and Feedback

Please reach out to for more information.

Interested in sharing data with WPdx? Please see here for more details.

How WPDx is Transforming Water Access in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone, like many countries, has received significant international support to collect data about rural water services. As is typically the case, valuable information about rural water services has been collected both through large-scale national inventories and small-scale monitoring efforts by NGOs of their own work. Despite massive investments in data collection, this data remained largely unused – aside from some simple summary statistics. When local governments needed to make important decisions – where to build water points and which services to rehabilitate – these decisions were, “done by assumption and political decisions.” Despite the wealth of data available, critical decisions were still being made by a best guess.

There were two fundamental reasons that the data was not routine used. First, the data available was incomplete. It had not been regularly updated, and the wealth of data collected by each NGO remained fragmented. The bigger challenge, however, was that data analysis is hard. Most district water officials, whether in Sierra Leone or anywhere else, do not have the ability to analyze large datasets to generate insights on specific actions to take. While summary statistics can help measure services, they often fall short when trying to make tactical decisions.

WPDx worked with the Ministry of Water Resources to solve both of these issues. The Ministry of Water Resources launched the National Digital Monitoring Approach, which included a requirement that all data be shared to the Water Point Data Exchange’s global data repository. This harmonized fragmented data and allowed many different sources to stitch together the most complete picture of water services in Sierra Leone’s history. Building on this, the Ministry engaged a local university to host a training for all district officials on how to use the WPDx decision support tools. Finally, they worked with the Ministry of Finance to pass the first national directive requiring the use of WPDx decision support tools in all investment decisions for rural water services.

Today, district officials across the country are using WPDx tools to harness evidence and improve the way water decisions are made for millions of people in Sierra Leone. Desktop models suggest that using data in this way can improve efficiency by as much as 25%, allowing governments to reach ¼ more people than they otherwise would with the same budgets. This increased efficiency is enables Sierra Leone to accelerate progress towards achieving the SDGs and leading the African continent in the use of data.

You can hear how WPDx has transformed the water sector in Sierra Leone directly from the M&E Manager for the Ministry of Water Resources in a short video, available here.