Category Archives: Emergency Sanitation

An Emergency WASH update – March 15, 2018


March 20 – Solutions for Dirty Water. In this third part of its “Sustainable Water, Resilient Communities” series, co-hosted with Winrock International and the Wilson Center, the USAID-funded Sustainable Water Partnership (SWP) will present “Solutions for Dirty Water” on March 20. Moderated by SWP Director Eric Viala, experts will discuss approaches to meeting the challenges of poor water quality: improving sanitation and hygiene, preventing the spread of waterborne diseases after disasters, addressing agricultural pollution and increasing water supplies through wastewater reuse.

Panelists: Jon Freedman, Global Government Affairs Leader, SUEZ; Daniele Lantagne, Associate Professor, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Tufts University; Lisa Schechtman, Director of Policy and Advocacy, WaterAid America; Jon Winsten, Agricultural and Environmental Economist, Winrock International; Tracy Wise, WASH Sector Advisor, Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, USAID

April 6 – Water in Humanitarian Emergencies: Water: Systems, Science and Society (WSSS) 9th Annual Symposium: Tufts University. The event will feature discussions and breakout sessions on the role of innovation and diplomacy in addressing water concerns in humanitarian emergencies. The symposium will kick off with a keynote address by Martha Thompson on Puerto Rico’s disaster response, followed by two breakout sessions led by various water experts on the intersection of gender and water, infrastructure and investments, and waterborne disease outbreaks. Finally, the Symposium will conclude with a panel discussion on the water crisis in Cape Town, South Africa.


Taking emergency water, sanitation and hygiene to market. Oxfam Voices, March 2018. Esther Shaylor explains how Oxfam is working with other NGOs to share learning about providing emergency water, sanitation and hygiene using local markets.

Fast-acting antidote in sight for cholera epidemics. Science Daily, March 9, 2018. Groundbreaking discoveries regarding the onset of cholera are paving the way for a future, fast-acting antidote for cholera epidemics.

What You Need to Know About the Future of the Humanitarian Sector. Aid for Aid Workers, March 2018. My guest today, Sean Lowrie is the Director of START Network, has some forward thinking ideas around where the humanitarian sector is headed and what International NGO’s will need to do in order to adapt to these changes

Addressing Water, Sanitation and Disasters in the Context of the Sustainable Development Goals. UN Chronicle, March 2018. The resulting recommendations on key actions include: Raising disaster risk reduction and resilience to a higher level on the political agenda. Special Thematic Sessions on water and disasters should be organized biennially in the United Nations General Assembly.

Why we must engage women and children in disaster risk management. Sustainable Cities, March 2018. At the community level, disaster risk prevention should start with boys and girls. Success stories from Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Nepal, and Bangladesh show the impact of involving children and youth in disaster risk preparedness. Children have successfully participated in mapping hazards, raising awareness through radio and games, and influencing other children, teachers, parents and communities on how to reduce disaster risks.

Monitoring and evaluation framework for WASH market based humanitarian programming: guidance document. Oxfam, 2017. In order to gather evidence about the effectiveness and efficiency of market-based programmatic approaches compared with conventional humanitarian responses, there is a need for a systematic and standardised approach for monitoring and evaluation. To support the development of this standardized approach, Oxfam (with funding from USAID/OFDA) has commissioned the production of a monitoring and evaluation framework and associated IT tools.

Climate Change and Conflict: New Research for Defense, Diplomacy, and Development. This March 7, 2018 event was held at the Wilson Center. “The long-term trends toward a warming climate, more air pollution, biodiversity loss, and water scarcity are likely to fuel economic and social discontent – and possibly upheaval – through 2018,” the U.S. National Intelligence Council warns in its Worldwide Threat Assessment. Panelists discussed how can the state of the research help us understand and address these risks and what are the next steps for translating this expertise into new security practice.


Cholera: Revised cholera kits and calculation tool, World Health Organization. In 2016 WHO introduced the Cholera Kits. These kits replace the Interagency Diarrhoeal Disease Kit (IDDK) which had been used for many years. The Cholera Kit is designed to be flexible and adaptable for preparedness.

An Emergency WASH Group update

Dear Colleagues:

There are currently 136 members in the Emergency WASH Google Group. We have changed the settings on the Google Group so that you can now send a message directly to the group by sending an email to rather than having to log into the group to post an email. All messages will be reviewed first to make sure that no spam messages are sent. If you would like to join the Emergency WASH Google Group please send an email to request membership.


Water ConflictWater Currents, February 6, 2018. This issue contains open access articles and reports from 2017, as well as several news articles on water, conflict, and peacebuilding published so far in 2018. Also included are selected USAID resources on water-related conflict.

2018 annual review of the Blueprint list of priority diseasesWHO, February 2018. For the purposes of the R&D Blueprint, WHO has developed a special tool for determining which diseases and pathogens to prioritize for research and development in public health emergency contexts. This tool seeks to identify those diseases that pose a public health risk because of their epidemic potential and for which there are no, or insufficient, countermeasures.

Medical and health risks associated with communicable diseases of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh 2017Intl Jnl Infectious Diseases, March 2018. Using the Rohingya people in Bangladesh as a case context, this perspective article synthesizes evidence in the published literature regarding the possible key health risks associated with the five main health and survival supporting domains, namely water and sanitation, food and nutrition, shelter and non-food items, access to health services, and information, for the displaced living in camp settlements in Asia.

Strong thirsts in fragile countries: walking the water scarce path of refugeesWorld Bank Water Blog, February 8, 2018. This blog post discusses a new initiative, Water Scarce Cities Initiative.

Physical Agents for DisinfectionGWPP Newsletter, February 2018. This chapter describes the most common methods of physical disinfection, their basis of action, the factors that impact their effective application, their effectiveness against pathogens, and basic design considerations.

Biogas Micro-Production from Human Organic Waste—A Research ProposalSustainability, January 2018. Organic waste (OW) management tackles the problem of sanitation and hygiene in developing countries and humanitarian camps where unmanaged waste often causes severe health problems and premature death. OW still has a usable energy content, allowing biogas production, potentially contributing to satisfy the local needs, e.g., cooking, lighting and heating.

Sodium hypochlorite dosage for household and emergency water treatment: updated recommendationsJournal Water & Health, February 2018. We recommend water from improved/low turbidity sources be dosed at 1.88 mg/L and used within 24 hours, and from unimproved/higher turbidity sources be dosed at 3.75 mg/L and consumed within 8 hours. Further research on field effectiveness of chlorination is recommended.

Communicating Risk in Public Health Emergencies: A WHO Guideline for Emergency Risk Communication (ERC) policy and practiceWHO, January 2018. The recommendations in these guidelines provide overarching, evidence-based guidance on how risk communication should be practised in an emergency. The recommendations also guide countries on building capacity for communicating risk during health emergencies.


Applied Research on Common Under Researched WASH Interventions Information for Potential Partners on Water TruckingTufts University, January 2018. Water trucking is one of a suite of water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) interventions implemented in emergencies, and is intended to rapidly provide water supply to affected populations. As described below, water trucking is considered a ‘common under researched WASH intervention’. Tufts University is currently seeking project partners implementing water trucking who would be interested in having existing water trucking programs evaluated.

Geospatial Images Improve Humanitarian Aid EffortsPOB, February 7, 2018. MSF is teaming up with experts at the University of Salzburg’s Department of Geoinformatics (Z_GIS) to apply geospatial technologies for social, economic and environmental purposes. Z_GIS is conducting pioneering research in the use of remote sensing such as satellite imagery with advanced image processing techniques to monitor populations. One of its key objectives is developing automated approaches to extracting population information from satellite images.


An Emergency WASH Update – January 30, 2018


Pollution Research Group – Faecal sludge management online course. This online course on faecal sludge management has been designed to impart knowledge on the important aspects that need to be taken into account when designing and operating a comprehensive FSM system. The course targets professionals who deal with planning, promoting, designing, operating or managing FS for residents in urban, peri-urban, slum or rural areas, in low income-countries and beyond. Start Date: 1 February 2018 | Duration: 16 weeks | Workload: 8 hours/week | Language: English | Cost: Free

Global Disaster Relief & Development Summit, September 5-6, 2018, Washington DC. The Global Disaster Relief & Development Summit strives to enable quicker and better response during crises and catastrophes by improving effectiveness, cost-efficiency and sustainability of aid operations.

11-15 April 2018, Global WASH Cluster Annual Meeting, Berlin, Germany – Once a year, Global WASH Cluster Meetings are held to offer an opportunity for the Strategic Advisory Group, the Cluster Advocacy and Support Team, partners and other stakeholders to meet and discuss key topics and issues from the previous six months.

Continue reading

Menstrual hygiene management in humanitarian situations


Nepal Fact Sheet: Safaa Paani (WASH Recovery) Program. USAID, December 2017. Some of the key outcomes are to: Map water sources using GIS technology across the two project districts; Renovate or construct 200 community water supply systems in earthquake-affected communities; and Promote sanitation, hygiene and menstrual hygiene management at temporary learning centers and schools

Menstrual Cups and Reusable Pads Are Literally Changing Lives Uganda’s Refugee Camps. Global Citizen, December 2017. The main goal of WoMena’s pilot program was to assess whether menstrual cups and reusable pads are feasible options for displaced women and girls.

For refugee women, periods a dangerous, shameful time. Reuters, March 2017. For refugee women, fleeing their homes for safety, the challenges of a period can be even greater. “There’s no dignity in having your period when you’re a refugee,” Terri Harris, of the Muslim women-led development charity Global One told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.


A Toolkit for Integrating MHM into Humanitarian Response: The Full Guide. Columbia University and International Rescue Committee, 2017. The toolkit was designed to support a range of humanitarian actors involved in the planning and delivery of emergency responses.

Transitions into puberty and access to sexual and reproductive health information in two humanitarian settings: a cross sectional survey of very young adolescents from Somalia and Myanmar. Conflict and Health, 2017. Very young adolescents (VYA) in humanitarian settings are largely neglected in terms of sexual and reproductive health (SRH). This study describes the characteristics of VYA aged 10-14 years in two humanitarian settings, focusing on transitions into puberty and access to SRH information.

Understanding the menstrual hygiene management challenges facing displaced girls and women: findings from qualitative assessments in Myanmar and Lebanon. Confl Health. 2017 Oct 16. 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.

Menstrual Health in RHINO Camp Refugee Settlement, West Nile Uganda. WoMena Uganda, 2017. With support from WoMena Uganda, ZOA implemented a MHM pilot intervention in Rhino Camp Refugee Settlement to assess the acceptability of introducing menstrual cups and reusable pads as part of their Teach Me More school-based programme. The pilot also aimed to assess the feasibility of following guidelines for safe use and care of the reusable products.

Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) for Education in Emergencies (EIE): A Study for Plan International Tanzania. PLAN International, September 2017. The study’s four objectives were to: • Identify the meaning of menstruation in the daily lives of adolescent girls in Nduta Camp; • Assess the impact of MHM on adolescent girls’ school attendance in Nduta Camp; • Assess the support resources (parents, teachers, community) align with MHM promotes the adolescent girls’ school attendance in Nduta Camp.

Mitigating Threats to Girls’ Education in Conflict Affected Contexts: Evidence Review. UNGEI, October 2017. Though there is scarce literature about this issue from conflict-affected contexts, we also include in this section a brief discussion of WASH and MHM facilities in schools, as these are very important for adolescent girls to feel safe, secure, and respected at school.

How can Humanitarian Organisations Encourage More Women in Surge? ActionAid, April 2017. Personal hygiene: The most critical thing that this study can advise in relation to menstrual hygiene is to encourage all humanitarian organisations to create safe spaces for women and men to talk about periods and toilet access.

Menstrual Health and Hygiene Management in Nepal. PSI Nepal, 2017. This scoping review and preliminary mapping of Menstrual Health and Hygiene Management (MHM) in Nepal is one of the first of its kind in Nepal. Through this review, we studied in-depth the MHM situation in Nepal, bottlenecks and opportunities for the way forward.

The Last Taboo: Research on menstrual hygiene management in the Pacific: Solomon Islands, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea. Australian Government, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), September 2017. The study was undertaken in 2016-17 and focuses on menstruation and how it is managed by women and adolescent girls in Solomon Islands (SI), Fiji and Papua New Guinea (PNG). The purpose of the study was to explore the challenges experienced by women and girls in managing their menstruation.

What is the scope for addressing menstrual hygiene management in complex humanitarian emergencies? A global review. Waterlines, July 2016. This global review assessed the landscape of MHM practice, policy, and research within the field of humanitarian response.

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.


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

Improving Handwashing in Humanitarian Crises: Methods for Researching Handwashing Practices and Behavior

Improving Handwashing in Humanitarian Crises: Methods for Researching Handwashing Practices and Behavior. by Sian White, Research Fellow, Hygiene and Behaviour Change, The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. CAWST Blog, October 11, 2017.

This year CAWST has been working with Action Contre Faim (ACF)and The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) to better understand handwashing practices among internally displaced people.

Working together on this project, this partnership brings together our experience and networks in academic health research, humanitarian operational experience in WASH and Mental Health, and development of educational material.

Left: A participant draws two images of himself, making one intentionally messy to symbolise his life falling apart. Right: The research assistant plots milestones on the timeline as the participant narrates her story.

Left: A participant draws two images of himself, making one intentionally messy to symbolise his life falling apart. Right: The research assistant plots milestones on the timeline as the participant narrates her story.

The general objective of the research is to develop deep understandings of the determinants of hand hygiene in emergency settings so as to contribute to the development of rapid and effective intervention tools; the ultimate goal of the research will be to equip emergency responders with the knowledge and tools to intervene rapidly and effectively on hygiene behaviour. The full findings of this research, including practitioner resources, will be available in 2018.

In this blog post, Sian White, the project’s lead researcher, shares four research methods she has been using and what these have revealed so far.

Read the complete blog post.