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UNICEF is the global lead agency for the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector under the IASC cluster approach. Launched in 2005, the cluster approach aims to address gaps in response and enhance the quality of humanitarian assistance by strengthening partnerships and coordination between UN agencies, the Red Cross/Crescent movement, international organizations and NGOs.
In emergencies where the Cluster approach is applied, UNICEF is requested to lead national coordination efforts. UNICEF led the response, for example, to the Yogyakarta earthquake in Indonesia, the war in Lebanon and in the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In all cases the cluster approach successfully enhanced coordination and emergency response and ultimately linked sectoral partners in expanded partnerships for non-emergency programme collaboration.
At the global level, UNICEF hosts the WASH Cluster support team based in New York and Geneva. UNICEF also has overall responsibility for the implementation of the three-year workplan for the development of the WASH cluster in five strategic areas:
1 WASH Sector Co-ordination and Advocacy
2 Information Management and Standards Policy
3 WASH Sector Capacity for Humanitarian Response
4 WASH Sector Preparedness
5 WASH Sector Best Practice and Learning
See the WASH cluster strategic framework for details on the planned outputs for the workplan.
A total of 15 projects have been formulated within these strategic areas, 8 of which are currently underway. These include work in the areas of hygiene promotion in emergencies, WASH capacity mapping, information management and learning, and the development of guidance materials. For more details see the projects page on the WASH cluster pages of the humanitarian reform website.