MEL efforts will employ different tools and processes. This includes what and how data is collected, analysed and presented, as well as who collects and analyses and is presented with the results. S&H information is typically collected through monitoring checklists and surveys.
Though usually easier to understand and manage – and simpler to transfer into government and development partner information management systems – these tend to be extractive and do not encourage community participation. As such, they often do not capture the challenges communities face and do little to improve understanding of why change has or has not taken place.
More inclusive and participatory monitoring efforts, where sound safeguarding measures are in place, can help to enable community members to take a more active role in data collection can encourage toilet improvement and create a mechanism for reporting and initiating dialogue on sanitation and hygiene issues between communities and local government.
Recent advances in smart phone technology enable geo-tagged data and photographs to upload to a computer database, reducing paperwork and increasing speed of data transfers and the potential for accidently misreporting.
However, there are challenges to using these in areas with limited or unreliable connectivity and/or electricity supply. They also require a relatively large initial investment in technology and training for teams to use them effectively, although over time digital systems may be more cost-effective than their paper equivalents.