Mutual Accountability Mechanism

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) require that governments engage with all actors through participatory multi-stakeholder processes, and that they demonstrate accountability in the decisions that they are taking in ensuring universal access to water and sanitation services, leaving no-one behind.

SWA’s Mutual Accountability Mechanism is designed to respond to these obligations of participation and accountability. It reflects the vision, principles, obligations, requirements and challenges set by the SDGs, as well as incorporating the SWA Framework of Guiding Principles, Collaborative Behaviours and Building Blocks.

Why is the SWA Mutual Accountability Mechanism important to your country/organization?


Key documents and resources

Webinar: Introduction to the Mutual Accountability Mechanism
English 1 English 2 Spanish


Leave No One Behind Webinar Series: Mutual Accountability in Action

English 1 English 2 Spanish



The Mechanism supports and strengthens country planning and review processes by requiring that commitments be drawn from the plans, strategies, targets and milestones that are developed by governments and other stakeholders, within the existing government time-frames. Further, the new Mutual Accountability Mechanism expects all SWA partners to collaborate in the making of commitments, and to report back on their actions to achieve these commitments.

  1. How is this Mechanism different from SWA’s previous Commitments cycle?
  2. How does the Mutual Accountability Mechanism relate to the SWA Framework?
  3. How does the Mutual Accountability Mechanism work?
  4. What will Commitments look like?
  5. How will SWA track progress against Commitments?
  6. How does SWA Mutual Accountability Mechanism support UN processes?
  7. Next steps: Calling for ‘Pioneer’ countries


1. How is this Mechanism different from SWA’s previous Commitments cycle?


The previous SWA Commitments process was centred around SWA’s High-level Meetings. Commitments were developed by government partners specifically to be presented at High-level Meetings, and these commitments were independent of other activities taking place nationally. Other SWA partners, such as external support agencies or NGOs were not expected to present commitments at the High-level Meetings, although some development partners did so.

The most significant to change to the Accountability Mechanism is the emphasis put on supporting and strengthening country planning and review processes and their timelines. Rather than developing commitments specifically for the High-level Meetings, and within the timeframe of the High-level Meetings, the new Mutual Accountability Mechanism recognizes the centrality of government-led multi-stakeholder planning and review processes to achieving SDG 6 and sanitation and water for all, always and everywhere. Therefore, the SWA Mutual Accountability Mechanism requires that commitments be drawn from the plans, strategies, targets and milestones that are developed by governments and other stakeholders, within the existing government timetables. SWA partners present and report on commitments at global High-level meetings (Sector Ministers’ Meetings) at the moment that it fits into the country’s own cycle of planning and review.

Further, the new Mutual Accountability Mechanism expects all SWA partners to collaborate in the making of Commitments, and to report back on their actions to achieve these commitments. This will be further explained below.

2. How does the Mutual Accountability Mechanism relate to the SWA Framework?


Accountability is central to the SWA Framework, being specifically mentioned in all three aspects of the framework, as a Guiding Principle (Transparency and Accountability) as a Collaborative Behaviour (Use one information and mutual accountability platform) as well as being at the heart of one of the Building Blocks (Planning, Monitoring, and Review). This consideration of accountability as a principle, a Behaviour as well as a key area for action has been translated into the Mutual Accountability Mechanism.

Ultimately, the Mutual Accountability Mechanism is the joint initiative that grounds the Framework in specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely actions. It re-enforces multi-stakeholder decision-making and mutual accountability among partners at national, regional and global level.

3. How does the Mutual Accountability Mechanism work?


Through government-led, multi-stakeholder national planning, monitoring and review processes, governments and other stakeholders define their short- medium- and long-term strategies to overcome existing bottlenecks and challenges and to achieve the WASH-related targets of the SDGs.

Each country selects two or three specific actions or strategies (Commitments) that a country would like to present globally. They may address issues that have come up in the planning or review process, or may respond to specific aspects of the SDGs or the SWA framework of guiding principles, Collaborative Behaviours and building blocks. Particularly relevant will be issues, such as ‘leave no-one behind’ where SWA partners believe that the global perspective offered by discussions at SWA global meetings will be particularly helpful to them. Commitments should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time bound (SMART), such that progress towards their achievement can be monitored.

All SWA partners that work within a country should collectively agree on these country commitments, and will be expected to be able to report on their contributions to achieving them. The country commitment will be complemented with related commitments from the other SWA constituencies – external support agencies, CSOs, private sector and research and learning institutions.

As with the development of the commitments, the assessment of the extent to which the commitment has been met should be part of existing government-led multi-stakeholder reviews (such as Joint Sector Reviews) and using national and global monitoring processes.

SWA partners, such as external support agencies or research and learning institutions, that work in multiple countries are also encouraged to make global commitments as well as commitments that align with or are integrated into country commitments in those countries where they work.

4. What will Commitments look like?


Commitments must be agreed through a multi-stakeholder process led by government. Examples of possible Commitments:

Government commitment: rural sanitation strategy

Development of a rural sanitation strategy and establishment of a rural sanitation directorate to implement and oversee progress, particularly in poorest districts

> Indicators: Strategy approved, directorate fully staffed, increases in rural sanitation coverage, disaggregated by wealth quintile

Donor commitment

Training of staff of sanitation directorate and funding of start up costs, funding of training of CSO staff delivering sanitation programming

> Indicator: measures of competence of CSO and government staff (written tests at the end of training, performance assessments)

CSO commitment

Work in partnership with government to identify approaches that will improve sanitation in poorest and hardest to reach areas

> Indicator: quality of programming, increase in sanitation access in identified areas

Research and Learning Institutions’ commitment

Research into sanitation directorates in other countries and regions to find solutions that address challenges of hard to reach areas

> Indicator: Production of a report that provides useful information to the government on the creation of an effective sanitation directorate 

Private sector commitment

Engagement with government in the development of the sanitation directorate, specifically in outlining the role and responsibility of private sector actors

> Indicator: Role of private sector clearly defined within sanitation directorate.

5. How will SWA track process against commitments?


The monitoring of commitments is anchored in the national cycle of planning- monitoring and review  processes, with indicators identified to follow up on targets and specific commitments, along with their other nationally agreed targets and plans. In line with the Collaborative Behaviours, SWA partners are encouraged to work through a single information platform in each country, and to harmonize indicator selection, data collection, and data analysis. 

This multi-stakeholder platform for country-level monitoring would be complemented by global aggregation of sector performance using JMP, GLAAS, the Collaborative Behaviours Country Profiles and any relevant regional monitoring mechanisms that are in place.

SWA’s global Sector Ministers’ Meetings provide an opportunity for SWA partners across the world to present and subsequently report on their own commitments and to learn from others’ priorities and activities. As every country has its own processes and timeframes, the SWA Mutual Accountability Mechanism must allow for SWA partners to present and review their Commitments at the global meeting that is most appropriate to them. The next Sector Ministers’ Meeting is planned for Spring 2019 and will be held in the Spring of 2019.

SWA will also make use of the opportunities provided by regional sector meetings such as SACOSAN, LatinoSan and Africa Water Week to convene sessions relevant to the partners active in the region.

Every three years the SWA Secretariat will produce a global report on the progress reflected by the Mutual Accountability Mechanism, and on the extent to which partners have achieved the commitments made in the previous three years. This will provide an opportunity for analysis of successes and continuing challenges.

wave graph_global meeting cycles-01


6. How does SWA Mutual Accountability Mechanism support UN processes?


As SWA is a platform that focuses on how to reach the SDG targets by emphasizing the SWA Framework of Collaborative Behaviours and Building Blocks, the multi-stakeholder dialogues, he SWA mutual accountability mechanism will help SWA partners prepare a Voluntary National Review for the High-level Political Forum.

7. Next steps: ‘Pioneer’ countries


To help the SWA partnership in guiding and supporting all partners in implementing the Mutual Accountability Mechanism, the Secretariat is supporting country partners to volunteer to act as ‘pioneer countries’ in the implementation of the mechanism. The implementation of the Mutual Accountability Mechanism in these ‘pioneer’ countries will be documented to increase learning and identify the iterative changes countries will make during implementation. The SWA Secretariat provide regular support to all countries and will work with a set of partners to provide the extra support which may be needed by pioneer countries.

There are no fixed requirements for being identified as a ‘pioneer country’, other than an interest and openness in sharing the experience with others that are also pioneering the Mutual Accountability Mechanism through a closed email group. The SWA Secretariat will provide specific support for this process of documentation and sharing of experiences. It is also hoped that these “pioneer” countries will have advanced in the implementation of the MAM by the time of the SMM.

If you are interested, please contact the SWA secretariat: