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.


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