Category Archives: IYS Themes

Emergency WASH – recent studies and news

Environmental Impact Assessments in refugee crises. Institute of Development Studies, October 2017.

Although much of the literature found by this rapid review emphasizes the necessity of including environmental considerations into the planning of mass displacement camps, and the role of environmental impact assessments (EIAs), there is little available literature on the assessments carried out, and the quality of these. The literature specifically highlights the role of previous humanitarian interventions in the overexploitation of groundwater resources, but specific EIAs related to this were limited. The review highlights a selection of accessible examples of the where EIAs (or other environmental assessments) have been carried out in refugee situations, focusing on mentions of WASH and water supply considerations within these.

 Solid waste and faecal sludge management in situations of rapid, mass displacementInstitute of Development Studies, October 2017.

Solid waste and faecal sludge management in situations of rapid mass displacement are important to public health and providing for a better environment. Despite this, both have been neglected in WASH programmes, which tend to have a focus on water. However increasing efforts are being made to find solutions to challenges in solid waste and faecal sludge management in difficult circumstances in humanitarian emergencies.

Innovative WASH options in situations of severe overcrowdingInstitute of Development Studies, October 2017.

A rapid review of the literature has found a selection of innovative WASH options available for situations of severe population overcrowding and limited spaces. Key findings are as follows: In some cases, e.g. refugee camps, extending the lifespan of latrines is more important than the technology used. e-vouchers that can be spent on hygiene items are used in Syrian camps; The Urinal Project by Cewas Middle East provides a safe odourless unisex alternative to using camp toilet blocks. In conclusion, often the term ‘innovation’ is limited to technological innovation. However, as far as the WASH sector is concerned, much of the technology already exists for use in these situations. Innovative solutions should be found in the areas of service delivery, financing and even data collection.

 Making Lebanon’s water flow: delivering better basic urban servicesIIED, November 2017.

Lebanon’s urban spaces have been shaped by regional and national conflict. Basic services, including water provision, have long suffered from fractured urban planning and extensive informal urbanization. Reflecting on water-focused interventions in urban Lebanon over a six-year period, we identify approaches that could increase the efficacy, flexibility and sustainability of responses: inclusive integrated planning; recognizing the positive and disruptive power of data; partnership between state and non-state agencies to support autonomous utilities and local institutions; and engagement with the informal sector.

The importance of thinking beyond the water-supply in cholera epidemics: A historical urban case-studyPLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, November 2017.

Spatially targeted cholera interventions, such as reactive vaccination or sanitation/hygiene campaigns in hotspot neighborhoods, would likely have been more effective in this epidemic than control measures aimed at interrupting long-cycle transmission, such as improving municipal water quality. We recommend public health planners consider programs aimed at interrupting short-cycle transmission as essential tools in the cholera control arsenal.

 In the News

 How Zero Mass is using solar panels to pull drinkable water directly from the airThe Verge, November 2017.  Because that’s what Zero Mass does: harvest drinking water out of thin air, using a combination of materials science, solar power, and predictive data. Source panels have, so far, been installed in wide range of places: in hurricane-stricken Puerto Rico, at schools and orphanages for refugees in Lebanon, and at high-end homes in California.

 UNICEF warns of contaminated drinking water in camps for Rohingya refugees. UN News Centre, November 2017. “The latest figures from the World Health Organization suggest that 62 per cent of water available to households is contaminated,” UNICEF spokesperson Christophe Boulierac told reporters Tuesday at the regular press briefing in Geneva.


San-Dem: Formative Research in Zambia: Briefing Note – SHARE

San-Dem: Formative Research in Zambia: Briefing Note. SHARE, November 2017.

Conclusions: Shared sanitation in Bauleni compound and possibly other similar settings present challenges for coordinating, cleaning and ensuring proper use of toilets by plot members. Share_Logo_MAIN_STRAP_RGB

Improvements are dependent on landlords whose primary motives for making these improvements are financial, social, and familial.

Properly designed demand-side interventions may be able to increase peri-urban sanitation quality in a cost-effective way.

Recommendations for the intervention

  • Target landlords as the primary target audience because they are responsible and financially capable of making toilet improvements.
  • Aim towards strengthening social cohesion on plots, as toilets are maintained as a shared resource
  • Primarily use the status and nurture motives, which scored highest, while also emphasizing justice and disgust to promote social cohesion and cleanliness
  • Encourage the use of different financial investment schemes by landlords to encourage savings for deliberate, planned toilet improvements

The Power of Incentives: Lessons Learned from Designing and Implementing Results-Based WASH Programs

The Power of Incentives: Lessons Learned from Designing and Implementing Results-Based WASH Programs. by  by Elynn Walter, Guy Howard, Jan Willem Rosenboom, Jeff Albert, Susan Davis, Yi Wei. WASHfunders blog, November 2017.

This week we highlight lessons by UK Department for International Development (DFID)Bill & Melinda Gates FoundationiDE  and Thrive Networks in designing and implementing  innovative results-based WASH programs.


Source: Thrive Networks

On September 20th in New York City, Improve International and IRC convened a conversation on innovations in grantee-donor relationships in WASH programs hosted by the Voss Foundation and the Wildlife Conservation Society at their offices next to the Central Park Zoo. This week on the blog we summarize key takeaways from the meeting.

Payment by results
Guy Howard from the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) presented on the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene results programme. WASH Results is a 12-country payment by results program involving three supplier contracts. Payments are made by DFID following independent verification of results achievement. The program is supported by a monitoring, verification and evaluation component which provides independent verification of suppliers’ results achievement, and includes an evaluation component including a randomized control trial on program sustainability.

DFID wanted to quickly reach 6 to 7 million people with water access, and so needed to expand its supplier base (previously, 60% of their water programs had been implemented by UNICEF).  This was the first time DFID tried payment by results at this scale.

NGOs started using robust hybrid monitoring systems that were input- and output-based, with third party verification. All suppliers worked well, and liked this method.  PBR has expanded to other programs.

Organizations need to have an asset base to take on risk because they only get paid at the end. Most large non-profits do have this, but it is set aside for contingency funding. DFID’s partners had to negotiate with their boards to be able to access these funds. Few people have the skills (WASH and auditing) to do verification. Also, because the results are time-limited they need proxies to measure the strength and sustainability of systems.

Read the complete article.

CSIS – The State of Water and Sanitation in India

India is a water stressed nation. Yet it is India’s states that have ultimate authority over many water related issues. Water is a key pillar in these states’ ambitions to improve the quality of life of their citizens and to drive industrial growth.

These states must form innovative partnerships to meet their needs within the context of growing scarcity, increased pollution, and interstate conflict.

The Wadhwani Chair invites you to the first public segment of the Indian States Engagement Forum series to hear from key U.S. stakeholders on their experience in addressing the water challenge across India’s states.

WSUP – A guide to strengthening the enabling environment for faecal sludge management: experience from Bangladesh, Kenya and Zambia

A guide to strengthening the enabling environment for faecal sludge management: experience from Bangladesh, Kenya and Zambia. WSUP, November 2017. wsup

This Guide presents an introduction to conceptualising and strengthening the enabling environment for faecal sludge management (FSM) services in low-income urban areas.

It is based on WSUP’s experience working with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop market-based solutions for on-site sanitation services in the cities of Dhaka and Chittagong (Bangladesh), Kisumu (Kenya) and Lusaka (Zambia).

Why is FSM so important?

FSM is the process by which faecal sludge is contained, collected, transported, treated and then safely disposed of or reused. 2.7 billion (38%) people around the world are dependent on on-site sanitation facilities like pit latrines and septic tanks, which contain and partially treat faecal sludge on-site (as opposed to centralised systems like sewers that remove waste from households and transport it to treatment facilities).

Read the complete report.

USAID announces the release of the US Global Water Strategy

Global Water Strategy to Create a More Water-Secure World

The U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development recently published the U.S. government’s Global Water Strategy.

Photo Credit: Bobby Neptune Photography

Photo Credit: Bobby Neptune Photography

The Global Water Strategy envisions a water-secure world, where people and nations have the water they need to be healthy, prosperous, and resilient.

To advance the Strategy, the U.S. government will work with partner countries and key stakeholders to achieve four interrelated objectives: 1) increasing access to sustainable safe drinking water and sanitation services, and promoting hygiene; 2) protecting freshwater resources; 3) promoting cooperation on shared waters; and 4) strengthening water governance and financing.

The U.S. government’s efforts will focus on countries and regions where needs and opportunities are greatest and where engagement can best protect our national security interests.

The U.S. Global Water Strategy is required by the Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2014.

For a copy of the U.S. Global Water Strategy and information on priority countries, please visit

Recent studies on Emergency WASH


Understanding the menstrual hygiene management challenges facing displaced girls and women: findings from qualitative assessments in Myanmar and LebanonConflict Health, October 2017. Key findings included that there was insufficient access to safe and private facilities for MHM coupled with displacement induced shifts in menstrual practices by girls and women. Among staff, there was a narrow interpretation of what an MHM response includes, with a focus on supplies; significant interest in understanding what an improved MHM response would include and acknowledgement of limited existing MHM guidance across various sectors; and insufficient consultation with beneficiaries, related to discomfort asking about menstruation, and limited coordination between sectors.

Water, crises and conflict in MENA: how can water service providers improve their resilience? IIED, October 2017. The capacity of local water service providers (state-owned and private) to maintain adequate levels of services has decreased as conflicts and population movements across the region have continued, mainly towards urban areas. Other actors including United Nations agencies, international organisations, local NGOs and independent – often informal – water providers have played an important role in filling gaps in supply. This study analyses all these actors’ responses to continuing the supply of water during conflicts, focusing on factors of resilience building that particularly concern local service providers.

Integration of water, sanitation and hygiene intervention delivery at health facilities with a reactive ring vaccination programme to reduce cholera. International Journal of Epidemiology, February 2017. Globally there are estimated to be 2.8 million cholera cases annually, resulting in 95 000 deaths.1 Ali and colleagues recently reported results on the spatiotemporal risk for cholera and estimated overall and indirect cholera vaccine effectiveness of a ring vaccination programme, by analysing data from an oral cholera vaccine (OCV) trial in Kolkata, India.2 Cohorts in close proximity to a cholera case had a 5–11 times higher risk of cholera during the 1-month period after the onset of case illness when compared with cohorts not exposed to a case.

USAID/OFDA WASH Sector Update: FY2016OFDA. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, USAID/OFDA provided approximately $247 million to support WASH programs in more than 35 countries. WASH interventions in emergencies often include construction or repair of latrines, hygiene support, solid waste removal, and the provision of safe, treated water.

Surface water in temporary humanitarian settlementsWaterlines, January 2017. Reviewing core humanitarian engineering texts and global standards, this paper sets out the current state of the art and shows that there is a lack of clarity in the “ownership” of the problem and the established responses are disjointed and poorly articulated, especially at field staff level. Since the core texts have been written, there has been a change in the way surface water is being managed in urban areas. Sustainable urban drainage practices may have potential in resource poor but densely populated situations such as some refugee camps. The paper highlights the lack of adequate advice in both content and delivery mechanisms.

Learning from Oxfam’s Tiger Worm Toilets projectsWEDC Conference, July 2017. The world is witnessing the highest levels of forced human displacement on record, leading to people being housed in urban centres and camps. Generally the sanitation needs of these people are initially met by external agencies. The long-term costs of operating and maintaining traditional sanitation systems can be unviable when communities or local authorities take over their management. Therefore Oxfam has been trialling the Tiger Worm Toilet (TWT) in peri-urban and camp settings. The aim of this paper is to review Oxfam’s TWT projects and to share the learnings, together with the innovations that have occurred. The learnings are that TWTs are not the solution to all sanitation problems, but they have been proven to work well at household level. Monitoring and documenting the trials has been an ongoing problem due to a number of issues, which are linked to short term funding, and the use of project rather than program approaches.

Uncharted Waters: The New Economics of Water Scarcity and VariabilityWorld Bank, October 2017. Uncharted Waters shows that droughts in cities are costlier than floods. For firms in cities, the economic cost of droughts is four times greater than that of floods, with even more severe and longer-lasting effects. While the damage of floods is immediate, severe and grab the headlines, the effects of droughts are silent, slow and hard to detect.

Online Courses

Health in Complex Humanitarian Emergencies. Emory University, starts November 20, 2017. This course covers the technical and management principles that are the basis of planning, implementing, and evaluating health programs for acutely displaced populations in developing countries. The emphasis is on refugees in camp situations. The course includes modules on assessment, nutrition, epidemiology of major health problems, surveillance, and program management in the context of an international relief operation.

News Items

A Sleek Portable Toilet and Other Design Solutions for Disaster VictimsSmithsonian, November 2017. The toilet kit, from a Japanese design studio, is part of wave of interest in design fixes for the problems created by disasters