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?


Commitments tabled under the Mutual Accountability Mechanism 


48 countries presented 159 commitments, with other partners from external support agencies, civil society, the private sector and research and learning institutions between them making a further 83 commitments at the national level. 18 organizations and networks made commitments at the global level, with 54 commitments made between them.

All commitments made under the Mutual Accountability Mechanism for the April 2019 Sector Ministers’ Meeting  are available here


Key documents and resources

  • [wpdm_hotlink id=1225 link_label=”About the SWA Mutual Accountability Mechanism”] [wpdm_hotlink id=1310 link_label=”(en español)”]
  • [wpdm_hotlink id=1220 link_label=”SWA Guiding Principles”] (2-pager)
  • [wpdm_hotlink id=1287 link_label=”Report from Lisbon Kick-Off Meeting”] ([wpdm_hotlink id=1288 link_label=”en Français”])
  • [wpdm_hotlink id=1289 link_label=”Presentation from Lisbon Kick-Off Meeting”]
  • Guidance note for submitting Commitments
  • MAM commitments overview 2019 (Français) (Espagnol)
  • Webinar recordings:

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 SWA Commitments process (2010–2014) was centred around SWA’s High-level Meetings. Developed only by government partners and specifically to be presented at High-level Meetings, and these commitments were independent of any other national processes and activities taking place nationally. Other SWA partners, such as external support agencies, NGOs and private sector were not expected to present commitments at the High-level Meetings, although some development partners did actually do so.

The most significant development to the Accountability Mechanism is the emphasis that is now being put on supporting and strengthening country planning and review processes and their timelines. Rather than asking governments to develop commitments specifically for the High-level Meetings, the 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 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 and potentially also Finance Ministers’ Meetings) when it fits into the country’s own cycle of planning and review.

Further, the new Mutual Accountability Mechanism invites all SWA partners to collaborate in the making of commitments, and expects all partners 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 critical to implementing the SWA framework is what led to the development of the Mutual Accountability Mechanism.

The SWA Framework grounds the Mutual Accountability Mechanism in multi-stakeholder decision-making among partners at national, regional and global levels, and requires that commitments lead to specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely actions.

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.

From these strategies, each country selects two or three priority actions or strategies (Commitments) that the country would like to present globally. These 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, reviewed and reported upon.

All SWA partners working 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 commitments made by government can be complemented with related commitments from the other SWA constituencies – external support agencies, civil society organizations, private sector and research and learning institutions.

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

SWA partners, including external support agencies and research and learning institutions, that work in multiple countries are 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 are agreed through a multi-stakeholder process that is 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 government and other staff responsible for delivering sanitation programming

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

Civil Society 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 and review 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 could 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. There will be a Finance Ministers’ Meeting in April 2020, and a Sector Ministers’ Meeting in the second half of 2021.

SWA will also make use of the opportunities provided by regional water and sanitation 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.


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


As SWA is a platform that focuses on supporting partners to reach the SDG targets by emphasizing the SWA Framework of guiding principles, Collaborative Behaviours and Building Blocks, the multi-stakeholder dialogues and the SWA Mutual Accountability Mechanism may also help countries to 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 who have volunteered to act as ‘pioneer countries’ in the implementation of the mechanism. Pioneer Countries’ work towards implementing the Mutual Accountability Mechanism will be documented to increase learning and identify the iterative changes countries will make during implementation. The SWA Secretariat will provide specific support for this process of documentation and sharing of experiences. Two meetings dedicated to working with the Pioneer Countries have already taken place – in November 2018 in Lisbon, Portugal, and in April 2019 in San José, Costa Rica.

The SWA Secretariat provide regular support to all countries and will work with partners to provide the extra support which may be needed by pioneer countries.

If you are interested to know how you can support the Mutual Accountability Mechanism in your country or organization, please contact the SWA secretariat: