Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Program

UNICEF’s WASH programme, in partnership with the Lebanese government, aims to reduce child vulnerability for both national and refugee populations.

Boy filling a water tank from the tap.
UNICEF/Lebanon 2013/Shehzad Noorani


The Syrian crisis has entered its sixth year, and spillover effects have reached critical levels in Lebanon. Children and their families living in Informal Settlements (ISs) or other temporary, often makeshift living environments without access to appropriate WASH services are among the most vulnerable populations in Lebanon.

Despite the challenging operating environment, UNICEF directly and indirectly supports the Government of Lebanon to respond to the Syria refuges crises since 2012 at multiple fronts. At the service delivery front, UNICEF pursues a dual pronged strategy for addressing the WASH needs. The first pillar revolves around the sphere of service provision for more than 190,000 people out of 253,000 living in Informal Settlements (ISs) level ensuring the recurrent Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) needs of the most vulnerable segment are continuously met and water related diseases mitigated.

The second pillar aims at reaching 390,000 people out of the most vulnerable refugees and host communities with sustainable WASH services and simultaneously reducing tensions. Overall, UNICEF represents 58% of the WASH sector delivery at the water service provision front.

Access to a public piped network as a drinking water source has declined from 57% to 35% between 2004 to 2009, while since 2000 only 8% of wastewater is treated. Many poor children, both Lebanese and refugees, are without access to safe water, a fundamental right and a prerequisite for healthy physical development.

The health and environmental impacts are evident, with waterborne diseases including dysentery, hepatitis A, leishmaniosis and typhoid being the leading diseases affecting children, peaking among those aged 0-4 years.

Girl pouring water into a kettle from a water tank.
UNICEF/Lebanon 2013/Shehzad Noorani

UNICEF is largest provider of WASH services in informal settlements (IS): covering more than 80% of total IS inhabitants in over 4,100 IS daily via six NGO partners.


UNICEF’s enduring collaboration with the Lebanese Government, particularly with the Ministry of Energy and Water and Water Establishments, has facilitated the rapid expansion of the WASH response including:

  • Humanitarian interventions to mitigate public health hazards in Informal Settlements through the temporary provision of WASH services
  • Stabilization support aimed at implementing the National Water/Wastewater Sector Strategies developed by the Ministry of Energy and Water to provide services to both host and refugee populations served by regional water authorities.
  • Support for national and regional government to implement inclusive interventions for improved water and wastewater management
  • Financial sustainability impedes the government’s ability to maintain the provided services. It’s against that backdrop that UNICEF will continue supporting the Bekaa, South and North Water Establishments in implementing the communication strategy developed by UNICEF in 2016.
  • Improve access to the most in need of safe drinking water supply and wastewater services, and improved environmental conditions as a result of UNICEF direct support.
  • Improved fair use of WASH services through appropriate community-based mobilization.
  • To increase the sustainability of the intervention and enhance refugees’ autonomy in ISs, partners provide continuous training to WASH Committees and/or Community Mobilizers who will refer any emergency to adequate actors.

Our Key Achievements 

  • UNICEF is largest provider of WASH services in IS: covering more than 80% of total IS inhabitants in over 4,100 IS daily via six NGO partners, keeping UNICEF as the lead WASH Agency in ISs. UNICEF ensures coherence, quality, and complementarity among such partners.
  • UNICEF is a crucial player in stabilization investments: At the stabilization front, 111,000 people in the most vulnerable municipalities gained improved access to safe drinking water supply construction/ rehabilitation of water and wastewater systems across the country.
  • Guided by routine monitoring of the WASH and environmental health results, over 134,000 refugees in ISs was reached with custom tailored public health promotion messages tackling topics related to safe water chain, chain of contamination, solid waste, as well as communicable diseases, and hygiene.