Author Archives: usaidwaterckm

How WASH Programming has Adapted to the COVID-19 Pandemic – Sanitation Learning Hub

How WASH Programming has Adapted to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Sanitation Learning Hub Rapid Action Learning Papers, December 2020.

Since first appearing at the end of 2019, the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has spread at a pace and scale not seen before. On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic.

A rapid response was called for, and actors across the globe worked quickly to develop sets of preventative measures to contain the disease. One mode of transmission identified early on in the crisis was via surfaces and objects (fomites).

To combat this, hand hygiene was put forward as a key preventative measure and heralded as ‘the first line of defence against the disease’. What followed was an unprecedented global focus on handwashing with soap.

Health messages on how germs spread, the critical times at which hands should be washed, and methods for correct handwashing were shared (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2020). Political leaders around the world promoted handwashing and urged people to adopt the practice to protect against the coronavirus.

The primary and secondary impacts of COVID-19 have affected people and industries in a variety of different ways. For the WASH sector, the centring of handwashing in the pandemic response has led to a sudden spike in hygiene activity.

This SLH Rapid Topic Review takes stock of some of the cross-cutting challenges the sector has been facing during this period and explores the adaptations that have been made in response. It then looks forwards, thinking through what lies ahead for the sector, and considers the learning priorities for the next steps.

Read the complete article/download the report.

An Emergency WASH Network Update, December 11, 2020

This update contains links to recently published articles and reports and upcoming events and courses. The next update will focus on WASH & neglected tropical diseases in humanitarian situations so let us know of recent research, studies, resources, etc. 


ELRHA – Innovation Challenge: Facilitating the Adoption of Humanitarian WASH Innovations – The ambition of this first-of-its-kind Adoption Challenge is to enable humanitarian organizations to adopt promising new solutions, adapt them to new settings and evaluate their effectiveness. Application deadline, January 25, 2021.

Creating Hope in Conflict: a Humanitarian Grand Challenge 2020 Request for Proposals in Numbers, December 2, 2020 – This year, the majority of the solutions (32%) put forward were in the area of Health Supplies and Services; followed by Life-Saving Information (26%); Safe Water and Sanitation (22%); and Energy (20%). Creating Hope in Conflict: A Humanitarian Grand Challenge is a partnership of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth & Development office (FCDO), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, with support from Grand Challenges Canada.


IHE Delft – Online Course on Governance in Humanitarian Contexts, May – September 2021: The course aims to critically analyse the humanitarian architecture, the different humanitarian contexts, and decision-making for WASH through a multi-level governance approach.


USAID Water for the World Implementation Research Agenda. USAID, November 2020. After undertaking a comprehensive and consultative process to identify and prioritize evidence gaps associated with its WASH programming approaches, USAID is launching the first-ever Water for the World Implementation Research Agenda to coordinate, integrate, and inspire research and learning in the WASH sector.

Water under fire volume 2: Strengthening sector capacity for a predictable, quality humanitarian response. UNICEF, November 2020. This second volume of the Water Under Fire report series is dedicated to the WASH sector’s capacity to deliver a predictable, quality humanitarian WASH response, and provides a change agenda and road map towards strengthening this capacity.

Kenya – Using drones to share COVID-19 information with vulnerable populations. COVID-19 Hygiene Hub, November 2020. Project staff decided to pilot the use of drones in humanitarian responses and felt that this was an interesting case study to generate new learnings.

Evaluating two novel handwashing hardware and software solutions in Kyaka II refugee settlement, Uganda. Oxfam, November 2020. The Promotion and Practice Handwashing Kit (PPHWK), a robust, user-friendly handwashing station, and Mum’s Magic Hands (MMH), a creative hygiene promotion strategy, were evaluated.

State of the World’s Sanitation. UNICEF, November 2020. This report includes a chapter on Sanitation for forcibly displaced persons.

Announcing Release of USAID Water for the World Implementation Research Agenda

Dear Colleagues and Partners, 

I am pleased to announce that USAID has released its first-ever “Water for the World Implementation Research Agenda.” A newly published blog frames the key evidence gaps and questions included in the document. 

Evidence is critical to effective and efficient water security, sanitation, and hygiene development programming at USAID, among our partner governments, donors, and implementing partners. The research agenda identifies 27 broad research questions that are critical to improving implementation of programs that contribute to the goal and associated Development Results of the USAID Water and Development Plan within the U.S. Government Global Water Strategy. The identification of these questions represents the culmination of an extensive process of exploring the evidence base associated with current approaches to water security, sanitation, and hygiene development programming, and of prioritizing evidence gaps through consultations across USAID and with our partners

The Water for the World Implementation Research Agenda is a key contribution to the Agency’s “evidence cycle.” By looking to the past (through our Ex-Post Evaluation Series) to current evidence (through our Water and Development Technical Series) and to the future (through this agenda), USAID is seeking to coalesce partners and the sector around approaches that last, and to measure those results in meaningful ways (see our Water and Development Indicator Handbook).

The Water for the World Implementation Research Agenda will guide investments in implementation research across USAID’s water security, sanitation, and hygiene portfolio. We look forward to working with you on expanding the evidence base to improve the impact and sustainability of our work on water security, sanitation, and hygiene for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable.

Read the Agenda

Jeff Goldberg
Director, Center for Water Security, Sanitation, and Hygiene
Bureau for Resilience and Food Security

Biweekly WASH research updates – December 8, 2020

Updates to

Blog – USAID Launches Water for the World Research Agenda – The agenda identifies 27 broad research questions that are critical to closing the lingering evidence gaps directly related to accomplishing all four USAID Water and Development Plan Development Results.

Blog – Less is More: Reducing Water Loss to Improve Resilience in Iraq – USAID and Coca-Cola through the Water and Development Alliance (WADA) have partnered with the Soran Water Directorate to improve water management practices and increase water availability by reducing water loss.

Blog – Emergency WASH Network’s Q & A With Albert Reichert – My name is Albert Reichert and I am one of the Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance’s WASH Technical Advisors. I am an engineer by training, specializing in groundwater and surface water flows. I was based in East Africa for the past 10 years and cover East and parts of Southern Africa for BHA WASH.

Upcoming Webinar – WASH Collaboration: Two Projects, One Result – The presenters will discuss how the two projects collaborated successfully to advance WASH development in Ethiopia, and how other projects might increase the sustainability and impact of infrastructure-focused support through partnership and learning. Join the webinar on Wednesday, December 9.

Publication – Water Currents: Inclusive WASH – December 3, 2020 – This issue contains the latest studies and resources detailing inclusive WASH as it relates to gender, disabled groups, the elderly, incarcerated populations, and other at-risk groups.

 COVID-19 and WASH

Preparing for Outbreaks – Implications for Resilient Water Utility Operations and Services. Sustainable Cities and Society, January 2021. The purpose of this article is to discuss the economic and public health impact of outbreaks on water and wastewater utilities and utility workforce and to present case studies demonstrating utilities’ preparedness and response to COVID-19.

Institutionalising Wastewater Surveillance Systems to Minimise the Impact of COVID-19: Cases of Indonesia, Japan and Viet Nam. Water, Science and Technology, November 2020. This mini review describes the current status and challenges regarding institutionalization of wastewater surveillance systems against COVID-19.

Open Defecation and Squat Toilets, an Overlooked Risk of Fecal transmission of COVID-19 and Other Pathogens in Developing Communities. Environmental Chemistry Letters, November 2020. The authors illustrate the potential routes of transmission of COVID-19 and other fecal pathogens via human feces in communities practicing open defecation. Here, poor hand hygiene, contaminated shoes and objects, mechanical vectors, and outdoor human activities can all contribute to fecal transmission


Exploring the Use and Appeal of Playpens to Protect Infants from Exposure to Animals, Animal Feces, and Dirt in Rural Ethiopia. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, November 2020. Results support further exploration of the potential benefits and commercial viability of scaling up use of playpens in rural, agricultural households as part of a comprehensive approach to child development and women’s empowerment.

Can Social Motivators Improve Handwashing Behavior among Children? Evidence from a Cluster Randomized Trial of a School Hygiene Intervention in the Philippines. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, November 2020. The program had limited impact on the motivators targeted by the program, suggesting that the small improvements in handwashing may have been driven by increases in the availability of soap.


Faecal Sludge Management in Africa. Socio-Economic Aspects, Human and Environmental Health. UNEP; IWMI, November 2020. This report explores current trends of fecal sludge management and how poor management practices worsen human and environmental health across Africa.

Comment: A Call for Global Monitoring of WASH in Wet Markets. Lancet Planetary Health, October 2020. Using monitoring data to target wet markets for hygiene and sanitation infrastructure upgrades, while protecting these marketplaces as vibrant, affordable, community spaces should be the global public health community’s next major focus.

Toilet Alarms: A Novel Application of Latrine Sensors and Machine Learning for Optimizing Sanitation Services in Informal Settlements. Development Engineering, August 2020. This study used cellular-connected motion sensors and machine learning to dynamically predict when daily latrine servicing could be skipped with a low risk of overflow.

What it Takes to Build a Sanitation Market: USAID Transform WASH and the Plastic Toilet Slab in Ethiopia. IRC WASH blog, November 2020. Market facilitation is what USAID Transform WASH is all about, but it takes time, patience, and tenacity. Nothing exemplifies this more than nearly three-years of experience introducing the plastic toilet slab to the Ethiopian market. 


Striving for Borehole Drilling Professionalism in Africa: A Review of a 16-Year Initiative through the Rural Water Supply Network from 2004 to 2020. Water, November 2020. The initiative has raised the profile of drilling professionalism, provided a wealth of materials and inspired others to take action. Thousands of stakeholders have improved their knowledge.

Evidence-Based Chlorination Targets for Household Water Safety in Humanitarian Settings: Recommendations from a Multi-Site Study in Refugee Camps in South Sudan, Jordan, and Rwanda. Water Research, February 2021. Sphere chlorination targets may not ensure household water safety in refugee camps. This is most concerning in camps in hot settings where WASH conditions are poor. The authors investigated post-distribution chlorine decay in multiple refugee camps globally.

Data, Data Everywhere: New World Bank Water Data Portal. World Bank, October 2020. With support from the Global Water Security & Sanitation Partnership (GWSP), the World Bank has just launched the World Bank Water Data Portal. For the first time ever, a curated list of water data from the World Bank and other sources and institutions is now available in one place.

Making progress towards inclusive sanitation and hygiene for sexual and gender minorities

Making progress towards inclusive sanitation and hygiene for sexual and gender minorities. by Alice Webb, Sanitation Learning Hub, December 2020.

As we move closer to the 2030 target for sustainable and safely managed sanitation and hygiene for all, it feels like we’re starting to make progress on including certain groups of people in our work. We’ve seen an enormous effort to break down taboos and stigma, with growing awareness of sanitation issues relating to menstrual health and hygiene, disability, sanitation workers and most recently for us, people who experience incontinence.

While we continue those valuable conversations, it is time now to think about who we’re not talking about enough, about who is in danger of being left behind in the drive for sanitation and hygiene for all. It seems we have a long way to go, in terms of including, among other groups, sexual and gender minorities in our work on sanitation and hygiene.

It is, no doubt, a challenging topic to address. In 13 countries, it’s against the law to be transgender, including countries where we, at SLH, are currently working or have worked in the past. Elsewhere, sexual and gender minorities face harassment, violence and ridicule when accessing toilets. Here in the UK, we have a long way to go, at both cultural and institutional levels.

Bearing this in mind, programming needs to be extra vigilant for potential safeguarding issues and follow ‘do no harm’ principles very carefully. In addition, we need to bear in mind we’re talking about individuals who may experience intersectional discrimination due to characteristics such as race, class, disability and refugee status. We also need to consider the diversity of identities within sexual and gender minorities, who may face different challenges relating to their specific identity, (for example, intersex people can face non-consensual surgical procedures and unnecessary medical interventions).

Read the complete article.

USAID Water and Development Technical Series

USAID Water and Development Technical Series, 2020.

The Water and Development Technical Series is a set of technical briefs that provide guidance on important topics for developing and implementing water and sanitation activities in support of the U.S. Government Global Water Strategy and USAID’s plan under the strategy.

These briefs draw upon the latest evidence and provide recommendations for activity design, implementation, and monitoring. Each brief also provides links to additional resources.

Open Defecation-Free Slippage and Its Associated Factors in Ethiopia: A Systematic Review

Open Defecation-Free Slippage and Its Associated Factors in Ethiopia: A Systematic Review. Systematic Reviews, November 2020.

Background – Recent studies have shown an increase in open defecation and slippage of open defecation-free certified villages in Ethiopia, despite significant progress the country made on sanitation programs. Hence, realizing of existing facts, this study was conducted aiming at a critical review of available literature and to provide consolidated data showing the level of slippage and its associated factors in Ethiopia.

Result – After screening 1382 studies, 12 studies were finally included in this systematic review. The estimated pooled rate of open defecation-free slippage in Ethiopia was 15.9% (95% CI 12.9–19.4%). The main contributing factors for open defecation-free slippage were lack of technical support, financial constraints, low-quality building materials, improper program implementation, and lack of sanitation marketing.

Conclusion – It was estimated that 1 out of 6 Ethiopian households engaged in open defecation after they have certified open defecation-free status, implying the low possibility of achieving sustainable development goals of 2030, which aims to ensure sanitation for all. Therefore, the government of Ethiopia and donors should better give special attention to the following options: (1) awareness for open defecation-free slippage, (2) launch a post-open defecation-free program, and (3) encourage research on pro-poor sustainable sanitation technologies.

USAID Water and Development Technical Series: Rural Sanitation, October 2020.

USAID Water and Development Technical Series: Rural Sanitation, October 2020.

This Water and Development Technical Brief provides an overview of the important factors to consider in rural sanitation programming, including information on how to address governance, financing, markets, and behaviors for sanitation. It provides guidance for developing, implementing and monitoring rural sanitation activities based on recent evidence.


• Aim for area-wide geographic coverage. Go beyond the household and community levels to invest in area-wide (district or county) or market systems-level approaches to support impact and sustainability.

• Address governance, financing, markets, and behaviors. Successful sanitation programming must include interventions on governance, financing, markets, and behaviors and move away from an exclusive focus on direct service provision. The mix of approaches should be in direct response to the context.

• Targeted subsidies can be effective. Subsidy is not a dirty word. Targeted sanitation subsidies should be considered when seeking to reach the extreme poor and most vulnerable and can be successful when carefully combined with, or as a complement to, other approaches.

• Leave space for failure and learning. There are and will continue to be failures in rural sanitation programs, and there are not proven strategies/methods for all contexts (e.g., reaching the ultra poor). Plan for space and time and for staff to fail, iterate, assess progress, and adapt plans to ensure progress and sector-wide learning.

USAID Water and Development Technical Series: Urban Sanitation Services, 2020.

USAID Water and Development Technical Series: Urban Sanitation Services, 2020.

The purpose of this technical brief is to provide an overview of the important factors to consider in USAID’s urban sanitation programming.


• Urban sanitation is more than just toilets. Dense urban environments require consideration of the whole sanitation service chain to ensure safely managed sanitation: fecal waste containment, collection, transport, treatment, and final disposal or reuse.

• Effective urban sanitation is city-wide and inclusive. There is no simple solution – rapidly growing cities require a range of technical solutions across the sanitation service chain. Ensuring that everyone benefits from safely managed sanitation requires specific approaches to target the underserved.

• Apply commercial principles to service provision. Management of sanitation services is as important as the technologies involved, and financial viability is a critical element of sustainable services. Local governments and providers must understand what the costs are for safely managed sanitation and how costs will be covered.

• Aim for strategic, incremental improvements. The sanitation challenge in urban areas is likely to overwhelm any single actor, so it is important to identify a manageable gap for USAID programming to address. Large investments in master planning and infrastructure are required, but urban migration, political dynamics, and logistical complexity require an incremental, locally relevant, and dynamic approach.

Sessions from the 2020 UNC Water & Health Conference

Below are links to selected events with USAID participation and others at the UNC Water Institute 2020 Water and Health Conference. CKM set up a Google shared document which has additional side events, verbal presentations and posters from the conference and links to all events can be found on the conference website.

Monday – October 26

Plenary Session – COVID-19: What we Know and Don’t Know About SARS-CoV-2 and Water, Wastewater, and Hygiene – The objective is to highlight the latest evidence around COVID-19 to inform both practice and policy around WaSH.

Plenary Session – COVID-19: State of the Global WaSH Response – This panel discussion explores the types of activities that have been undertaken by both developing country governments and international agencies.

Side Event – COVID-19: Hand Hygiene / Handwashing – This side event presents the science behind hand hygiene, provides case studies from the field, and highlights the way forward for Hand Hygiene for All.
Convening Organizations: Global Handwashing Partnership, Emory University, FHI 360, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, UNICEF, Unilever, University College London, USAID, and the World Bank and 2030 Water Resources Group.

Side Event – COVID-19: Health Care Facilities – The COVID-19 pandemic has brought increased attention to the lack of WaSH and infection prevention and control capacity in healthcare facilities (HCFs) globally. This side event discusses the state of the science and presents a draft research agenda for improving WaSH in HCFs.
Convening Organizations: DevWorks, Engineers Without Borders USA, Global Water 2020, UNICEF, Water Institute at UNC, World Bank, World Health Organization, WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme.

Side Event – COVID-19: Wastewater Management – This side event brings together active researchers and practitioners for a lively discussion about the current state of SARS-CoV-2 research in wastewater. It explores the current state of the science in this important emerging area, challenges, opportunities, and engaging with the broader public health community of researchers and practitioners. Convening Organization(s): University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Notre Dame.

Tuesday – October 27

Side Event – Finance for WaSH – This session discusses opportunities to apply innovative financing in urban sanitation, drawing on recent examples in WASH and new research about the scale of the funding gap.
Convening Organizations: The Aquaya Institute, Social Finance, University of Leeds, iDE.

Side Event – JMP Updates: WASH in Schools: Accelerating Progress in Response to COVID-19 – This session discusses the newly released updated global estimates on WASH in schools, examples of how countries have gathered and used data to accelerate progress in response to the pandemic, and ideas to continue the momentum post-COVID.
Convening Organizations: UNICEF, WHO, GIZ, LSHTM, Swiss Water & Sanitation Consortium

Side Event – Serving the Urban Poor: Evidence to Support Decision-making in Continuous Supply and Sanitation: 2 Case Studies in Sub-Saharan Africa – Presents a continuous water case study from Lusaka, Zambia and urban sanitation solutions using 3 decision tools from Kampala, Uganda. The session is led by partners from sub Saharan Africa with time allowed for discussion with stakeholders on their experiences.