Water and sanitation services in developing countries are delivered in an extremely complex institutional environment, characterised by “soft” problems, that is problems with significant political and social components whose “what” and “how” cannot be defined early in the intervention process. A problem situation common in developing countries depicting “soft” characteristics is how to improve the effectiveness and efficacy of existing performance measurement systems to track the progress towards achievement of water/sanitation-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Such problem situations are better handled using soft systems methodology (SSM), a methodology recommended by Professor Checkland and his research colleagues at Lancaster University, UK. In 2003, SSM was applied in an intervention that aimed to improve performance measurement systems in the Uganda water/sanitation sector. Through strong participation of the key stakeholders, a team of researchers with their local counterparts in Uganda developed and field tested a performance measurement framework. According to an evaluation by the international donor community, policy makers and managers in the sector, the past three annual water/sanitation sector performance reports compiled using the performance measurement framework have depicted a progressive qualitative improvement.

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