Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

UNICEF WASH Strategies

© UNICEF/HQ06-1845/Josh Estey
Constructing a latrine in Java, Indonesia.

UNICEF sector strategies are based on the UNICEF WASH Strategy Paper approved by the UNICEF Executive Board in 2006.

One objective
The overall objective of UNICEF in the area of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) is to contribute to the realization of children’s rights to survival and development through promotion of the sector and support to national programmes that increase equitable and sustainable access to, and use of, safe water and basic sanitation services, and promote improved hygiene.

Two measurable targets
Target 1: Halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation (MDG Target 10)
Target 2: Ensure that all schools have adequate child-friendly water and sanitation facilities, and hygiene education programme.

Three packages of support
1) In priority countries: designed to lead to the achievement of both Target 1 and Target 2 in priority countries (countries with high child mortalities and low water and sanitation coverage).
2) In emergencies:  will be applied on the basis of need in countries and areas where urgent WASH interventions are required to prevent the death and suffering of children, and to protect their rights.
3) In all countries: will be provided in all other countries where UNICEF has a programming presence.

Comprehensive package for priority countries
1 Promoting a balanced national WASH programming framework:
UNICEF will encourage a three-pillar approach including the provision of water supply and sanitation services that are complemented by the promotion of improved hygiene behaviour and supported by an enabling environment.

2 Supporting  intersectoral approaches: Maximum child survival and development benefits are realized when hygiene, sanitation and water programmes are coordinated or integrated with other sectoral programmes including education, health and nutrition.

3 Providing catalytic and continuous support for scaling up sustainable WASH programmes: Targets will be met only when national service delivery programmes are significantly scaled up, and UNICEF will prioritize support activities that contribute to this end. However, increased coverage without improved sustainability is not true scaling-up, and UNICEF will actively work to identify and promote models to improve the sustainability of WASH services.

4 Supporting community management through effective decentralisation processes: UNICEF will support measures that help create strong institutions at the intermediate level (municipal, district, province, etc.), since they are critical to supporting community managed service provision, which is in turn essential to the sustained scaling up of WASH coverage.

5 Promoting  safe and sustainable water supplies through improved water resources management: UNICEF and its partners in the WASH sector have a responsibility to promote and implement measures to protect the freshwater resource base.

6 Focusing on sanitation, water quality and hygiene at the household level: There is increasing evidence that a greater focus on the household level increases the effectiveness of sectoral programmes, especially in the areas of sanitation, water quality and hygiene promotion. UNICEF will continue to promote affordable, safe household latrines; technology development in the area of household water treatment, and programmes that seek to improve key household hygiene practices.

7 Addressing a child’s right to health and education through the provision of WASH in schools: UNICEF is committed to ensuring that all children have access to high quality water and sanitation services at school, and the benefit of hygiene education. School-based WASH activities represent an opportunity to directly address a child’s right to both education and health.

© UNICEF/HQ06-1579/Shehzad Noorani
Girls collect water in a displaced-people camp north-eastern Sri Lanka.
In Emergencies
UNICEF has defined four key strategies to guide WASH programming in countries in crisis and transition:

1 Support to national emergency preparedness planning

2 Coordinating UN and NGO emergency response programmes (as the IASC designated lead agency for WASH in emergencies)

3 Acceleration and adaptation of existing programmes to rapidly and efficiently respond in emergency situations

4 Ensuring that emergency response inputs during emergencies reinforce best practices in the sector and contribute to national priorities as defined by government, UNICEF and partners.

In all countries
Strategies for all other countries where UNICEF works:

1 Advocacy and technical support for improving hygiene awareness and promoting behaviour change: Including through education, health, nutrition and young child survival and development programmes.

2 Technical support for water quality: In the areas of water-safety planning, water-quality monitoring and quality mitigation programming.

3 Development of emergency preparedness plans for WASH: Drawing on its competencies in emergency WASH programmes, UNICEF provides appropriate assistance to governments and other stakeholders in the development of national plans for WASH emergency preparedness.

4 Support to national monitoring for achievement of MDG target 10: UNICEF, with WHO, is the focal agency for global sector monitoring, and UNICEF also provides technical support to for monitoring at the national level.



Guiding Principles

In all programmes of support, UNICEF will:

1) Follow a human rights-based approach to programming

2) Work in-country, with governments

3) Collaborate with partners to develop innovative approaches and leverage resources

4) Promote the full involvement of women, particularly in decision-making roles

5) Ensure that UNICEF programmes and advocacy is pro-poor

6) Use state-of-the-art evidence for advocacy and programme design

7) Apply learning-based approaches guided by effective knowledge management

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