Monitoring the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 for water and sanitation builds on monitoring frameworks that were developed for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), specifically the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP). Yet, since SDG 6 goes beyond the MDG focus on drinking water and sanitation, it also significantly expands monitoring and reporting responsibilities. The target to improve water quality (Target 6.3) calls for water quality monitoring and data reporting that are likely to pose a significant challenge to countries that lack an established monitoring program. At the same time, redundant burdens may be imposed on countries that already have established programs and report out water quality data to inter- or supranational agencies. In this context, there is a risk that the intention that water quality data should serve as a basis for evidence-based decision making will become subsidiary to the resource-intensive activities of data collection and management. Alternatively, policies could be designed based on historical experience with measures of proven effectiveness, prioritizing policies that could have multiple benefits. Policies could be implemented in parallel with the development of monitoring programs and conventional monitoring data could be complemented by information gained from sources such as remote sensing and unstructured data.
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