Category Archives: Emergency Sanitation

eSOS Toilet: An Answer To Kenya’s Sanitation Challenge

eSOS Toilet: An Answer To Kenya’s Sanitation Challenge. Interesting Engineering, January 3, 2018. esos

The smart sanitation solution provides the basic hygiene to those who need it the most.

In the time of emergencies or following a natural disaster, the availability of proper sanitation facilities is always a concern. Undeniably, poor sanitation can often kill as many people as the disaster itself.

This becomes a critical issue, particularly in the temporary camps during the recovery process. Temporary toilet facilities are also responsible for pathogens spreading through a high groundwater table or flooding.

To improve this situation, IHE Delft, the world’s largest international graduate water education facility located in the Netherlands, has developed an emergency Sanitation Operation System (eSOS).

It is a holistic, sustainable and affordable sanitation solution for countries like Kenya, where open defecation is still in practice and also during the aftermath of a disaster.

As a matter of fact, eSOS toilet had a successful test run in the Philippines and its second prototype will soon be tested in Nairobi, Kenya.

What is eSOS? Let’s Take A Deeper Look

Reinventing emergency toilet and treatment facilities, eSOS uses information and communication technology (ICT) to cut down the expenditure of the entire sanitation management chain.

These new and innovative toilet systems can enhance the life quality of the people in proper sanitation need and also reduces the health risks.

Read the complete article.

Desalination in humanitarian situations

Dear Colleagues:

We were asked to compile a bibliography on this topic and have set up a shared google document.

The search results were kind of disappointing so please let us know if you have other studies or resources to add and we will try to keep an ongoing bibliography of the latest studies on desalination.

We also received requests to prepare bibliographies on the role water utilities in humanitarian situations so that will be the topic of the next biweekly update. Just let us know of any other topics that you are interested in.


A Road Map for Small-Scale Desalination: An overview of existing and emerging technology solutions for cost-efficient and low-energy desalination in South & Southeast Asia. OXFAM, May 2018. This report identifies the existing and emerging desalination technologies available (globally) and prioritizes their appropriateness, effectiveness and potential scalability in terms of their cost, efficacy of treatment, energy requirements and sustainability.

Marine Current Energy Converters to Power a Reverse Osmosis Desalination Plant. Energies, October 2018. The topic of this paper is utilization of marine current energy converters (hydro-kinetic energy) for powering desalination plants.

Applicability of Desalination Systems to Drought Relief Applications. US Navy, November 2018. Congress tasked the Navy to write a report on desalinization technology’s application for defense and national security purposes to provide drought relief to areas impacted by sharp declines in water resources. The general answer is: desalination is absolutely applicable to drought relief applications.

Effectiveness of Membrane Filtration to Improve Drinking Water: A Quasi-Experimental Study from Rural Southern India. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, November 2016. For this report, we evaluated a source-based, low-pressure membrane filtration system which operates without electricity or conditioning materials such as glycerol or ethanol and has been used in emergency and disaster relief situations such as after the tsunami of 2004 in Sri Lanka, India, and Indonesia, and other humanitarian installations in 16 other low-income countries.


Safe drinking-water from desalination: Guidance on risk assessment and risk management procedures to ensure the safety of desalinated drinking-water. WHO, March 2011. This WHO guidance document is health-focused and it builds on the publication “Desalination technology: health and environmental impacts. ”

Tapping the Oceans: Seawater Desalination and the Political Ecology of Water. Edward Elgar Publishing, November 2018. Through a series of cutting-edge case studies and multi-subject approaches, this book explores the political and ecological debates facing water desalination on a broad geographical scale.

Water desalination in the Gaza Strip: Al Salam RO brackish water desalination plant case study. WEDC Conference, 2017. This paper presents the details of the implementation of a medium scale brackish water desalination plant constructed in eastern Rafah – Gaza by Oxfam and its partner the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility.

Innovative approaches for the construction of Gaza’s largest seawater desalination plant. Waterlines, July 2017. Seawater desalination is an energy-intensive process and, given the limited availability of electricity within Gaza, UNICEF has focused on identifying innovative means of generating and conserving energy to tackle the energy–water nexus by incorporating renewable energy and energy recovery to maximize the plant’s viability.


Oman Humanitarian Desalination Challenge – The Challenge is a joint initiative led by MEDRC Water Research and The Research Council Oman with funding provided by The Sultan Qaboos Higher Center for Culture and Science. The challenge seeks to create a hand-held, stand-alone, low-cost, desalination device for short-term use and rapid deployment following a humanitarian crisis.

Water Purification Breakthrough Uses Sunlight and Hydrogels. UT News, April 2018. The ability to create clean, safe drinking water using only natural levels of sunlight and inexpensive gel technology could be at hand, thanks to an innovation in water purification.

Desalination: Water for an Increasingly Thirsty World. Europe Now, December 10, 2018. Desalination technology is neither new nor perfect. Several technologies currently are used to desalinate water, and a combination of different challenges and application needs creates a situation where no single technology is a perfect fit for all situations.


International Desalination Association (IDA) – IDA is the world’s leading resource for information and professional development for the global desalination industry – and the only global association focused exclusively on desalination and water reuse technologies.

Emergency WASH Update – December 14, 2018

Blog Posts

Where are the evidence gaps in the water, sanitation and hygiene sector? Evidence Matters, December 12, 2018.
Going forward, there is still a lot we don’t know and, beyond looking at new, innovative technologies, there are a few gaps (or opportunities) the sector needs to look at if we want to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): More studies on vulnerable populations: We found no studies that looked at (or even captured information on) people living with a disability. We found one rigorous impact evaluation focusing on people living with HIV, two on refugee camps, and one on people living through, or in the immediate aftermath, of a humanitarian crisis.

Sandra Ruckstuhl on Capturing Practical Lessons on Water, Conflict, and Cooperation. New Security Beat, December 14, 2018.
We realized “there was a need for a toolkit on water,” says Sandra Ruckstuhl in this week’s Water Stories podcast, “with a focus of conflict and conflict mitigation, but also peacebuilding.” Ruckstuhl, a consultant for the World Bank who has researched water programs in Yemen and the Middle East, helped the Wilson Center produce USAID’s Water and Conflict toolkit.

Handwashing Station Almost Ready for Action. Elrha, December 2018.
Oxfam’s Promotion and Practice Handwashing Kit is a robust, user-friendly handwashing station that is easily set-up in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, allowing for improved, timely handwashing at critical moments and reducing people’s health risks in emergency displacement camps.

Sharing Experiences and Advocating for Improved MHM Action in Emergencies. Elrha, December 2018.
IFRC’s project aims to improve actions to address the menstrual hygiene needs of women and girls in humanitarian contexts. Evidence-based lessons and resources from operational research in East Africa on innovative ‘MHM kits’, along with other IFRC experiences, will be consolidated and disseminated globally.

Human Rights Day: WASH during Emergencies. CLTS Foundation, December 2018. This article discusses some of the hardware and software innovations for WASH during emergencies.

New Academic Programs in the Field of Humanitarian Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene at GJU. German Jordanian University, December 2, 2018.
The president, Bioforce Institute Director of operations, and the ACF Regional Representative signed a cooperation agreement to launch the preparation phase for a Humanitarian WaSH academic program with funding from USAID/OFDA.


Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Post-Emergency Contexts: A study on establishing sustainable service delivery models. UNHCR and Oxfam, December 2018.
As many humanitarian crises are protracted in nature, emergency WASH services need to be sustained once humanitarian agencies depart. This report aims to review and identify alternative service delivery options, and to provide some pragmatic guidance that can be incorporated into emergency response programs and tested, evaluated and built on in the future.

Book Reviews

Health in Humanitarian Emergencies: Principles and Practice for Public Health and Healthcare Practitioners. 2018. Edited by David Townes, Mike Gerber, and Mike Anderson. 485 pp. Cambridge University Press. There is no doubt that every humanitarian health professional should have this book on their desk when planning, implementing, and evaluating humanitarian interventions.

USAID Water Office Emergency WASH Resources

The USAID website has an Emergency WASH page which contains links to key Emergency WASH organizations and publications.

Selected Articles from Global Waters on Medium – USAID Global Waters tells the story of USAID’s water-related efforts around the globe.

Selected 2018 Issues of Water Currents – Water Currents is a biweekly compilation of recent research on a specific WASH topic.

Emergency WASH in the News

Below are links to recent news items on Emergency WASH situations as well as news from USAID/OFDA efforts and resources from the World Health Organization on disease outbreaks. emergencies

Emergency WASH News Alerts

EU and UNICEF working together to prevent and control cholera in Zimbabwe …Reliefweb-Nov 30, 2018 – The contribution will fund critical watersanitation and hygiene (WASH) … soon as possible,” said Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management … the European Union helps millions of victims of conflict and disasters every year.

Many African countries are flooding, risking decades of development if …Phys.Org-Nov 30, 2018 – Health emergencies, including cholera outbreaks, can emerge due to poor … will make it harder to achieve SDG 6– ensuring access to water and sanitation for all. … Policy makers often see flooding as a humanitarian issue only – they must be …

UN expert: Orang Asli, refugees don’t have access to drinking water …  Free Malaysia Today-Nov 27, 2018 Special Rapporteur on human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation Leo Heller says the government should carry out a baseline survey to improve water …

UNICEF Indonesia Humanitarian Situation Report No. 4 (12 – 25 … ReliefWeb-3 hours ago Needs assessments identified clean watersanitation and hygiene, health and nutrition, recovery of infrastructure and public services, shelter, protection, food, …

To beat cholera, what is most needed is a reliable drinking water supply Medical Xpress-2 hours ago – To beat cholera, what is most needed is a reliable drinking water supply … diarrhoeal diseases relating to unsafe watersanitation and hygiene cause over 1,000 deaths a day in Africa … The humanitarian sector is increasingly committed to the …

Yemen – Complex Emergency Fact Sheet #3, Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 = ReliefWeb-15 hours ago Humanitarian organizations recorded a significant reduction of hostilities in Yemen’s … Health, nutrition, and watersanitation, and hygiene (WASH) actors have …

Lack of Preparedness Hampered Response to Cholera Epidemic in Yemen … Infection Control Today-21 hours ago – Humanitarian organizations implemented a robust response to cholera despite … in complex humanitarian emergencies with weakened public health systems. … both health facilities as well as water and sanitation infrastructure from airstrikes.

News from USAID OFDA

Crisis in the Philippines | Disaster Assistance Archives | U.S. … – usaid 6 days ago – In response, USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance provided more than $800,000 in humanitarian aid including basic shelter assistance, relief supplies, and water, sanitation, and hygiene support to people affected by the storm. … To date, USAID has contributed $13.5 ..

World Health Organization Resources

Ebola Situation Reports

Disease Outbreak News


Collaborative Bibliography on FSM in Humanitarian Situations

Dear Colleagues:

We have made a quick start on a FSM bibliography at the link below, and since such this is such an important topic, we hope to update it regularly with the latest research, news, studies, etc. Please contact us if have other studies and resources that should be added.

Fecal Sludge Management (FSM) in Humanitarian Situations – draft, November 30, 2018


Gates Foundation and Global Partners Announce Commitments to Advance Commercialization of Disruptive, Off-Grid Toilet Technologies. Gates Foundation, November 2018.
“This Expo showcases, for the first time, radically new, decentralized sanitation technologies and products that are business-ready,” said Bill Gates during the opening plenary of the Reinvented Toilet Expo. “It’s no longer a question of if we can reinvent the toilet and other sanitation systems. It’s a question of how quickly this new category of off-grid solutions will scale.”

Emergencies headlines from around the world. Oxfam, November 2018.
Bangladesh – Our industrial scale sewage treatment plant is open for business. It has the capacity to take 40 cubic metres of human waste per day (thus catering for 150,000 people),and is the largest ever such system to have been built in a refugee camp. Built to a German design it took seven months to construct, but the initial outlay will be more than paid back by the low operational and maintenance costs. It represents a big step forward in our ability to deal with fecal sludge in situ rather than carrying it away, and we expect to be replicating it in future crises.

5th International Faecal Sludge Management Conference, February 17-22, 2019, Cape Town, South Africa – This conference will provide the opportunity for sector professionals, governments, policy-makers, utilities, development partners, investors, industries and service providers to coordinate, develop and share learning to provide affordable and workable solutions at scale. This conference will focus on practical solutions to sustainably manage the whole non-sewered sanitation service chain, covering the toilet, containment, emptying, transport, treatment and reuse, as an essential component of city-wide urban sanitation services.

FSM In Humanitarian Situations
Preparing to Be Unprepared: Decision Making and the Use of Guidance on Sanitation Systems and Faecal Sludge Management in the First Phase of Rapid-Onset Emergencies. HIF-Elrha, BORDA, WASTE and Solidarités International, March 2018.
The first section investigates and compiles what options have been proven for applications in the emergency context. The second section discusses the driving forces behind the decisions made on fecal sludge disposal in first phase emergencies at the field level.

Compendium of Sanitation Technologies in Emergencies. EAWAG, 2018.
This Compendium compiles a wide range of information on tried and tested technologies in a single document and gives a systematic overview of existing and emerging sanitation technologies. In addition, it gives concise information on key decision criteria for each technology, facilitating the combination of technologies to come up with full sanitation system solutions, all linked to relevant cross-cutting issues.

Development of a Field Laboratory for Monitoring of Fecal-Sludge Treatment Plants. Water, August 2018.
In urban humanitarian-aid operations, safe treatment of fecal sludge is highly important. While currently field-deployable fecal-sludge treatment plants are being developed, field-ready analytical equipment for process-control and public health monitoring is missing. Within the Microbial Sludge Quality project, a field laboratory was developed.

Chemical disinfectants. GWPP, November 2018.
Safe water, sanitation, and hygiene provision and promotion are critical elements of emergency response to ensure human safety, health, and dignity. Disinfectants, such as chlorine, are widely used in emergency response to treat water for drinking. However, excreta is rarely treated in emergencies; the current focus of response activities is to provide safe, clean, and private sanitation facilities. In this chapter, we provide a summary of knowledge on disinfection of excreta in emergencies and recommendations for future research.

A pilot-scale microwave technology for sludge sanitization and drying. Science of The Total Environment, December 2017.
Microwave-based technology is promising option for treatment of faecal sludge, septic sludge and waste activated sludge. It is rapid and efficient in sludge sanitization (pathogen reduction) and drying (volume reduction up to 96%).

Low-cost Bangladeshi innovation at Rohingya refugee camp saves lives. CGTN, March 2018. The organization experimented with a simple filtration system, through which fecal sludge is collected mechanically using suction pumps and discharged through a series of filtration chambers to separate liquids from solids.  “The effluent is finally treated by a natural process in a ‘constructed wetland’ through the roots of Canna indica plants. After a month, the digested sludge converts to become compost,” Jahan explained.

Continue reading

Emergency WASH Update, November 15, 2018

The next biweekly update will contain recent studies and resources on Fecal Sludge Management so please send any studies or reports that should be featured.


Research Assistant: CLEAR and Wash’em – London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene: We are seeking to appoint a Research Assistant to support research on hygiene and sanitation in the Environmental Health Group. The successful applicant will have a MSc in a relevant field; experience in conducting research in low and middle-income countries or in humanitarian contexts. Closing Date: Thursday 22 November 2018.


Individual and Household Risk Factors for Symptomatic Cholera Infection: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. J Infect Dis, November 2018.
We identified potential risk factors for symptomatic cholera infection including environmental characteristics, socioeconomic factors, and intrinsic patient factors. Ultimately, a combination of interventional approaches targeting various groups with risk-adapted intensities may prove to be the optimal strategy for cholera control.

Global Cholera Epidemiology: Opportunities to Reduce the Burden of Cholera by 2030. The Journal of Infectious Diseases, September 2018.
While safe drinking water and advanced sanitation systems have made the Global North cholera-free for decades, the disease still affects 47 countries across the globe resulting in an estimated 2.86 million cases and 95,000 deaths per year worldwide.

Household Water Treatment and Cholera Control. J Infect Dis. 2018, Sept 2018.
Overall, a moderate quality of evidence suggests that HWT interventions reduce the burden of disease in cholera outbreaks and the risk of disease transmission. Appropriate training for users and community health worker follow-up are necessary for use. Barriers to uptake include taste and odor concerns, and facilitators include prior exposure, ease of use, and links to preexisting development programming.

Continue reading

Surprise (or not)! Toy-in-soap intervention increases handwashing among kids in emergency contexts

Surprise (or not)! Toy-in-soap intervention increases handwashing among kids in emergency contexts. FHI360 Research, October 2018.

There is nothing more satisfying in life, for me, than being able to say: I never thought of it that way. The most game-changing innovations can often have seemingly common sense solutions, and we see these solutions popping up everywhere in peer-reviewed literature. soap.png

One of those published solutions jumped out at me this week as I read a Crowd 360 blog post about innovative hand hygiene interventions to celebrate Global Handwashing Day. Researchers from LSHTM, Save the Children and their partners published new evidence showing toys inside soap can increase handwashing among kids in emergency humanitarian contexts.

Studies have examined handwashing with soap in a variety of ways over the years – with adults, with young kids, and with older kids; with health-based messages, with nudges, and with motivational messages; in school-settings, and in stable, non-emergency settings. The new toy-in-soap study, however, is the first evaluation of its kind. Here I summarize why the study is different, what the authors found and why those findings matter.

Read the complete article.