Category Archives: Emergency Sanitation

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.

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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.

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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.

An Emergency WASH update – new Sphere and UNHCR handbooks, recent research

Emergency WASH Google Group – October 31, 2018 Update


Draft 2 of the Sphere Handbook 2018 – Highlights of Draft 2 include: A new Delivering Through Markets annex covering Supply Chain Management and Cash-Based Assistance; New WASH standards on linkages to health for disease outbreaks and nutrition interventions.

The Sphere Handbook 2018 – The Sphere Handbook 2018 will be launched on 6 November 2018. New standards have also been developed, informed by recent practice and learning, such as WASH and healthcare settings in disease outbreaks, security of tenure in shelter and settlement, and palliative care in health. Different ways to deliver or enable assistance, including cash-based assistance, are also integrated into the Handbook.

UNHCR WASH Manual for Refugee Settings. UNHCR, September 2018. The manual outlines WASH guidelines that should be met in all refugee settings to provide an adequate level of basic WASH services for refugees. The manual discusses overarching principles that should be considered in all refugee WASH programs and provides an simple overview of WASH technical options that are suitable for refugee settings.

Too tough to scale? Challenges to scaling innovation in the humanitarian sector. Elrha, October 2018. Drawing from Elrha’s own experience in funding over 150 humanitarian organizations to develop, test and scale many highly impactful innovations, and research and experience from the social and development sectors, this report identifies 13 key barriers across five different challenge areas.

Female-friendly public and community toilets: a guide for planners and decision makers. WaterAid; WSUP; UNICEF, October 2018. The guide explains why toilets must be female-friendly, before detailing the essential and desirable features needed to make them so. The guide draws the recommendations and practical steps from existing literature, expert opinion and analysis of pioneering experiences from around the world.

Guidelines on sanitation and health. WHO, October 2018. The guidelines summarize the evidence on the links between sanitation and health, provide evidence-informed recommendations, and offer guidance for international, national and local sanitation policies and program actions.

Using innovation to break down barriers to handwashing in emergency settings. Elrha, October 2018.  Two years on, these innovations have refined their creations and have been testing them in humanitarian and emergency settings to gain vital insight into their use. Here’s a glimpse at these handwashing innovations and how they are helping.

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Handwashing in Emergencies – Emergency WASH Biweekly Update

Dear Colleagues:

October 15 is Global Handwashing Day, a global advocacy day dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives.


Innovative ‘Surprise Soap’ gets children washing hands in emergencies, with lifesaving implications. LSHTM, October 2018.
Researchers gave families in a displaced persons camp in Iraq a soap with a visible toy embedded in the center. The more children used the soap, the quicker they reached the toy. Children in the camp were involved in choosing the toys that were used, before they were manufactured locally using 3D printers. The findings show that play may be the key to increasing handwashing and saving lives in emergencies. It is the first time a motive-based handwashing approach has been tested with children in an emergency.

Child’s play: Harnessing play and curiosity motives to improve child handwashing in a humanitarian setting. International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, September 2018.
We show that distributing soaps with toys embedded inside, in a rapidly deployable intervention, can improve child handwashing behaviour in a humanitarian emergency context. Further studies are needed to determine the longer-term behavioural and health impact of such an intervention when delivered at a greater scale in a humanitarian context.

What doesn’t kill you: let’s talk about failure. UNHCR Innovation Service, September 2018.
This blog post by Cecilie Hestbæk, HIF Innovation Management Adviser, Elrha, discusses lessons learned from the Handwashing Innovation Challenge.

Promoting Good Hygiene in Burj El Burajneh Refugee Camp. Anera, September 2018.
In the southern suburbs of Beirut, Lebanon lies Burj El Barajneh; the most densely populated Palestinian refugee camp in the city and home to more than 17,000 registered refugees; all living within a mere 1 square kilometer area. In response to these challenges, Anera partnered with UNICEF to do outreach in Burj El Barajneh as part of the Community Based Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion Project.


Water insecurity and gendered risk for depression in rural Uganda: a hotspot analysis. BMC Public Health, September 2018.
Residing in a water insecurity hotspot is associated with greater risk for probable depression among women, but not among men, pointing to the need for focused depression screening among women residing in water insecure households.

Household Water Treatment and Cholera Control. Journal of Infectious Diseases, September 2018.
We conducted a systematic review of published and gray literature to determine the outcomes and impacts of HWT in preventing cholera specifically. 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.

Impact of social capital, harassment of women and girls, and water and sanitation access on premature birth and low infant birth weight in India. PLoS One, October 2018.
Globally, preterm birth (PTB) and low infant birth weight (LBW) are leading causes of maternal and child morbidity and mortality. Inadequate water and sanitation access (WASH) are risk factors for PTB and LBW in low-income countries. The objective of this study is to assess the relationships between WASH access and social conditions (including harassment and social capital) on PTB and LBW outcomes among Indian women, and to test whether social conditions modified the association between WASH and birth outcomes.

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Emergency WASH papers from the 2018 WEDC Conference

Please check out the Emergency WASH page on, and let us know of any suggestions or comments.

WEDC conference papers are an important source for learning about WASH innovations and lessons learned in the field and more than 150 papers were accepted for the 2018 WEDC conference. Here is the link to all of the papers and selected papers on Emergency WASH are listed below:

Designing evidence-based and context-specific hygiene programs in emergencies: could there be an app for that? – This research explored the factors that determine hygiene behaviour in emergencies and the barriers that prevent humanitarian actors from improving hygiene program design. Humanitarian actors felt that hygiene behaviour change was the remit of experts and that current guides are overly generic and hard to adapt and apply. The findings from this research are being used to develop a software-based tool to aid practitioners in designing rapid, evidence-based and context-specific programs in emergencies.

Shedding light on humanitarian sanitation – A three-country research project looking at the impact of lighting on WASH use and GenderBased Violence (GBV) required a multi-disciplinary approach, combining OXFAM’s practical implementing expertise with WEDC’s research-orientated approach. The research showed how much more is needed for safe sanitation than just building latrines.

Surface water management in humanitarian crises – This paper reports on the scoping stage of a practical toolkit being developed to support the application of surface water management practices in humanitarian contexts. The toolkit is predominately aimed at refugee and IDP camps for displaced people and aims to address the lack of suitable guidance in this area.

Using pre-crisis market analysis to strengthen emergency preparedness and resilience of WASH systems – This paper describes Oxfam’s experiences using pre-crisis market analysis in Bangladesh, Indonesia, South Sudan and Zimbabwe in order to support market-based programming to strengthen the resilience of market systems and prepare for reoccurring emergencies.

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