Children affected by natural disasters, conflict and instability have the same rights as children everywhere. Water, sanitation and hygiene activities are vital in these circumstances.
Although the provision of water may take precedence in the early stages of an emergency, sanitation and hygiene inputs are critically important. Beyond the initial response, all three elements – water, sanitation and hygiene – need to be developed both at a general level and in particular at schools and health posts.
The growing number, frequency and severity of emergencies – particularly in the past two decades – underline the compelling importance of water, sanitation and hygiene to overall humanitarian responses. But too often, support has come up short, or was too late, resulting in an uncoordinated and ineffective response.
A renewed interest in the sector, coupled with a vision of a better response capacity through cluster arrangements, provides a unique opportunity to address past constraints and weaknesses. The stage is now set for sound planning, preparedness and predictability; greater coherence to a system-wide approach; and more effective collaboration and coordination among partners – elements that will lead to more timely and effective responses in future humanitarian crises.