Category Archives: Sanitation and Health

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.

Sanitation Learning Hub launched

Sanitation Learning Hub

Following the start of a new four-year programme funded by Sida, the Institute of  Development Studies (IDS) launched the Sanitation Learning Hub website on 22 June 2020.

The website is divided into into three main sections:

Practical Support 

This section presents recommended approaches and practical tools to help sanitation and hygiene practitioners do their job well. It reflects our commitment to adaptable, ‘combinable’ and context-specific learning and sanitation approaches. Each approach page has an introduction recommended resources.

Current Thinking

Resources are divided by nine essential themes in this section. Each theme has an introduction, recommended resources, and sub-themes that get into more detail.

Connect, Share, Learn

The desire to bring together sanitation and hygiene professionals is reflected here. You can find blogs, news, events in the sector and more information about workshops, including stories from participants of past workshops. You can also submit a blog in this section.

Watch this video introduction to the new website.

For COVID-19, Focus on the Basics: WASH in Healthcare Facilities

For COVID-19, Focus on the Basics: WASH in Healthcare Facilities, by Thomas Boynton and John Oldfield, Global Water 2020. Sanitation and Water for All, April 2020.

When it comes to stopping a pandemic – be it COVID-19 or infectious Disease X sometime in the future – we are only as strong as the weakest link. And there is a clear weak link that few recognize and appreciate: the lack of water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) in healthcare facilities across the developing world.

Pandemics specialize in beating efforts to control them, especially at critical sites. Perhaps no place is more critical than any given healthcare facility where there is the greatest density of pathogens and the greatest volume of sick people.

The unappreciated reality is that at a time when we are bombarded with the message to “wash your hands,” healthcare workers and patients in healthcare facilities often cannot perform that simple act. WASH is the foundation of healthcare.

However, one in four healthcare facilities lacks basic water, one in five lacks sanitation, and two in five lack hand hygiene materials at points of care. That leaves a massive “catchment area” of two billion people who must rely on these inadequate facilities for their healthcare. This situation is always deeply troubling and especially problematic during a pandemic. 

Read the complete article.

WASH & COVID-19 updates, April 2020

April 27, 2020 – WASH & COVID-19 Weekly Update

April 20, 2020 – WASH & COVID-19 Weekly Update

April 13, 2020 – WASH & COVID-19 Weekly Update

April 9, 2020 – WASH & COVID-19 UPDATES Weekly Update

April 3, 2020 – WASH & COVID-19 Weekly Update

WASH & COVID-19 Update, April 20, 2020


Did you get the message? My favorite behavior change studies can inform the COVID-19 response by Julia Rosenbaum. R&E Search for Evidence, April 2020.

Ten Immediate WASH Actions in Healthcare Facilities for COVID-19 Response. Compiled by Lindsay Denny, Global Water 2020, April 2020.

Understanding hygiene promotion in the context of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. UNICEF guidance note, April 2020.

Hand Hygiene – Could COVID-19 Permanently Change Hand Hygiene? By: Gideon Lasco, GHP Blog, April 2020.

Hygiene behaviour during outbreaks. COVID-19 Hygiene Hub, April 2020.

Identifying & Mitigating Gender-based Violence Risks within the COVID-19 Response. Global WASH Cluster, April 2020.  

Cleaning and hygiene tips to help keep the COVID-19 virus out of your home. UNICEF, April 2020.

Three lessons for the COVID-19 response from pandemic HIV. The Lancet, April 2020.

COVID-19 Prevention When There’s No Soap and Water. JHCCP, April 2020.

Zimbabwe: Unsafe Water Raises COVID-19 Risks. Human Rights Watch, April 2020.

International task force to examine wastewater for community infection of novel coronavirus. SMW, April 2020.

Ten Immediate WASH Actions in Healthcare Facilities for COVID-19 Response

Ten Immediate WASH Actions in Healthcare Facilities for COVID-19 Response. Compiled by Lindsay Denny, Global Water 2020, April 2020.

This page describes ten immediate water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) actions that low-resource healthcare facilities can undertake with limited budget in the near-term (0-3 months) to prepare for and address COVID-19.

On the second page, WHO and UNICEF have provided input on how to best adapt their Eight Practical Steps in the midst of COVID-19.

Finally, we have compiled resources for action. While some activities may be temporary stopgaps, the goal is to provide incremental improvements that can be sustained and built upon after the outbreak subsides.

In particular, the proper management of WASH will be critical to protect healthcare workers and prevent infections. WHO has stated that WASH guidelines for COVID-19 are the same as for preventing other infections.

The immediacy of the outbreak will require healthcare facilities, Ministries of Health, and partners to prioritize activities, with a focus on infection prevention and control and preparing for an influx of patients, causing greater demand on WASH services.

WASH & COVID-19 updates – April 13, 2020


Water, sanitation, hygiene (WASH) and waste management for the prevention of COVID-19 Updated Technical Note-2nd edition 6 April 2020. WHO; UNICEF.

New resource: messages on the COVID-19 and WASH link. Sanitation and Water for All, April 6.

Corona Comic – No Chance for Corona: How Kids Can Help Beat the Virus. Welthungerhilfe, April 2020.

USAID Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Latest News

Responding to COVID-19 – The Global Handwashing Partnership, April 7.

Handwashing is first line of defense in preventing Coronavirus, but millions do not have access to soap and water. WaterAid, April 10.

How do you stop COVID-19 without clean water? National Geographic, April 8.

Handwashing helps stop COVID-19. But in India, water is scarce. National Geographic, April 7.

One Way to Potentially Track Covid-19? Sewage Surveillance. Wired, April 7.

WASH & COVID-19 Updates – April 9, 2020


Interim recommendations on obligatory hand hygiene against transmission of COVID-19. WHO, April 1, 2020. Recommendation to Member States to improve hand hygiene practices widely to help prevent the transmission of the COVID-19 virus by: 1. Providing universal access to public hand hygiene stations and making their use obligatory on entering and leaving any public or private commercial building and any public transport facility. 2. Improving access to hand hygiene facilities and practices in health care facilities.

Welthungerhilfe and WASH United Corona Comics – The four friends are the protagonists of a comic strip that provides young people between the ages of 10 and 14 with information about the coronavirus and other preventative hygiene measures.

Global WASH Cluster Covid19 Weekly Update, April 4, 2020 – The first issue of this weekly newsletter which will aim at providing a summary of ongoing knowledge sharing initiatives tailored for WASH practitioners and public health humanitarian workers.

Knowledge Map: WASH in Schools and Coronavirus. WASH in Schools Network, April 2020. The WASH in Schools Network (UNICEF, GIZ, Save the Children, WATERAID; Emory, LSHTM, among others) have compiled this knowledge map with links to relevant materials about COVID-19 for learners, their families and the education system.

WASH (Water, Sanitation & Hygiene) and COVID-19. World Bank, April 6. Action in the WASH sector is therefore critical for both containing the virus and lowering its immediate impact and aftermath. Three priority areas are identified as part of the emergency response.

Covid-19 in low-income countries – we need rapid learning about effective handwashing initiatives. IDS, April 8.

Covid-19 reveals and further increases inequalities in water and sanitation. IDS, April 6.

Putting equality, inclusion and rights at the centre of a COVID-19 water, sanitation and hygiene response. WaterAid, April 2.

Combating the Coronavirus Without Clean Water. WRI Blog, April 8.

Latin America moving fast to ensure water services during COVID-19. World Bank Water Blog, April 8.

How Do You Wash Your Hands To Fend Off Coronavirus If Water Is Scarce? NPR Goats and Soda, March 30. 

Recent WASH & COVID-19 Resources

This page will be updated periodically with news, resources and research related to WASH and COVID-19.

April 3, 2020 Updates


Understanding hygiene promotion in the context of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak: UNICEF guidance note, March 2020. This note provides guidance on which aspects to consider when planning and implementing a hygiene promotion campaign as part of a broader risk communication and community engagement strategy.

Incorporating nudges into COVID-19 communication and prevention strategies. By Julia Rosenbaum, USAID WASHPaLS Project (FHI 360), March 2020. Global Handwashing Partnership Blog, March 2020. Nudges are physical cues that influence people to behave in a certain way, without particular messaging or promotion of any behavior.


Covid-19: why is hand washing so effective? The Guardian, April 1, 2020. With scientists still racing to find treatments for Covid-19, Nicola Davis speaks with Prof Pall Thordarson about why soap is so effective at deactivating Sars-CoV-2 and how this differs from hand sanitizer.


Coronavirus global health emergency. UN Water – This page brings together water and sanitation-related information from UN-Water Members and Partners in the light of the coronavirus global emergency.

COVID-19 resources. Wash’EM – Webinars, guides, videos, etc.

USAID – Publications, newsletters and reports on hygiene, handwashing and other issues related to disease prevention and control.

WASH & COVID-19 – Water Currents, March 2020

This special issue contains links to key websites as well as studies and reports that discuss the water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH)–related aspects of COVID-19. With the release of additional funding, to date USAID has committed up to $100 million in financing from the Emergency Reserve Fund for Contagious Infectious-Disease Outbreaks for 25 countries affected by novel coronavirus (COVID-19) or at high risk of its spread.

The COVID-19 virus is transmitted through two main routes: respiratory and contact. No evidence to date suggests that the virus is present in surface or groundwater sources or transmitted through contaminated drinking water. And no evidence to date suggests that the COVID-19 virus has been transmitted via sewerage systems, either with or without treatment.

The provision of safe WASH conditions is essential to protecting human health during all infectious disease outbreaks, including the COVID-19 outbreak. Below are some WASH–related infectious disease prevention and control measures. 

  • Ensuring good and consistently applied WASH and waste management practices in communities, homes, schools, marketplaces, and health care facilities will further help to prevent human-to-human transmission of the COVID-19 virus.
  • Frequent and proper handwashing with soap is one of the most important measures that can be used to prevent infection with the COVID-19 virus. WASH activities aiming to respond to COVID-19 should work to enable handwashing by improving services and facilities and using proven behavior change techniques. 
  • Reliable water services in health facilities and households are critical to ensuring both sufficient quantities of safe drinking water and the ability to maintain hygiene (including hand hygiene, laundering, cleaning, and disinfection). 

Read the complete issue.