What is WaSH CQI?

WaSH Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) is a system for creating rapid and sustainable improvements in Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WaSH) organizations. While most organizations are committed to using monitoring data to improve, time and resource constraints, as well as the lack of clearly defined goals often limit the speed and sustainability of improvements. WaSH CQI’s systematic approach allows organizations to rapidly identify and prioritize service delivery gaps and improvement opportunities using monitoring data, then launch targeted improvement projects right away.
CQI methods have a long and successful track record in other sectors: these methods have transformed manufacturing over the past 50 years, and the service and health care industries for over two decades. WaSH CQI is the first time these proven quality improvement tools have been used to meet the needs of the WaSH sector. CQI systematically harnesses the creativity of your existing team to define clear improvement goals, leverage monitoring data to identify opportunities, then achieve and sustain rapid improvement in areas with the greatest impact. Through carefully selected improvement projects, CQI engages staff at all levels of an organization, and integrates stakeholders at the community, NGO, and government levels. Because quality improvement is continuous, this process becomes an ongoing cycle.

How is WaSH CQI Implemented?cqi circle

WaSH CQI uses the following broad steps, customized as needed:
1. DEFINE key areas for improvement
2. MEASURE performance using WaSH Monitoring, Evaluation,
and Learning tools and indicators
3. ANALYZE data using the WaSH MEL database and WaSH Analytics toolkit to identify root causes and key opportunities
4. IDENTIFY, EVALUATE, and SELECT solutions using structured decision tools
5. IMPLEMENT improvements at the pilot scale
6. SUSTAIN and SCALE effective improvements to achieve maximum impact
• Continuously monitor projects to track improvements over time
• Repeat the process to tackle new opportunities!

How is WaSH CQI different?


Conventional improvement focuses on increasing the resources, effort, attention, and technology used to achieve an outcome without improving the underlying system that produces that outcome. The WaSH CQI approach recognizes that all work is done through systems. If organizations want game-changing results and the ability to achieve more with less, they must first improve the systems through which they provide WaSH services to users.


Conventional improvement relies on expert opinion for decision-making. In the WaSH CQI approach, all decisions are driven by data. CQI uses data to demonstrate which are the most important factors affecting outcomes, so that improvement projects can target those critical factors for faster gains.


Conventional improvement is reactive: in conventional systems, brief, stressful improvement occurs in response to a problem identified by chance, then staff return to business-as-usual. WaSH CQI is proactive: in the CQI approach, improvement IS business as usual. Monitoring is used to continuously identify opportunities for improvement, and teams meet regularly to identify and implement solutions in a relaxed atmosphere.


Using conventional improvement, a process that works 90% of the time is often considered to be OK or good. In the CQI approach, monitoring results are never good or bad, they just set the stage for the next round of improvement. In CQI, 90% quality means we are just getting started!

Why should I care about WaSH CQI?

WaSH CQI gives outstanding organizations and individuals the tools they need to maximize their efficiency and impact by systematically identifying and addressing bottlenecks and challenges with laser-like focus. If you are interested in learning how to deliver higher-quality WaSH services faster, more sustainably, and at a lower cost, then you have a reason to learn more about WaSH CQI.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)