Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

We focus on affected populations in Syria to ensure those in need and the most vulnerable receive timely, life-saving and gender responsive Water, Sanitation & Hygiene assistance.

girl drinking water from tap


Prior to the conflict, people in Syria had benefited from well-developed centrally-managed water systems, while in terms of sewage systems and treatment plants only major cities were being adequately served. That affected the share of treatable and drinkable water reaching people in peripheral locations, who had to resort to less-developed technologies and possibly unsafe alternatives to cater for their needs.

Damaged and disrupted by the several years of conflict, water, sanitation and hygiene services and facilities have impacted the safe and regular access of about 14.6 million people to safe water, among other WASH services, while 7.6 million people are estimated to be in acute need for WASH services.

The context has imposed challenges on our ability to achieve our programme goals, including:

  • Protecting and meeting water and sanitation needs of vulnerable families and children, especially those in remote or peripheral areas, who due to the disruption of water treatment facilities have had to resort to unsafe alternatives, risking their wellbeing and at times their lives.
  • The deterioration in WASH related services such as the lack of treatment of water supply systems, the contamination of water due to damages and leaks in sewer lines and inadequate chlorination levels in addition to the prevalence of sub-optimal hygiene practices that have contributed to the re-emergence and outbreak of water-borne diseases such as hepatitis and watery diarrhoea. This deterioration jeopardizes public health and sustains a high risk of disease for children and families in the areas lacking adequate water and sanitation facilities.
  • High costs of rehabilitation and implementation caused by the challenges of restoring technologically complex systems and adequately operating and maintaining pre-crisis high-standard services. Restoration of sanitation and sewage treatment facilities remains a major challenge.
  • The changing programme priorities due to the protracted conflict and dynamic context.
  • The limited availability of up-to-date information and lack of accessibility to conducting assessment studies.


In UNICEF Syria we will take steps to overcome our challenges by responding to contextual dynamics caused by the protracted conflict, though:

  • Focusing on transitional WASH projects that would bridge the gap between humanitarian response and longer-term investments, such as water and waste water treatment technologies, wetlands construction and the use of treated waste water for irrigation.
  • Strengthening hygiene education, through WASH-in-schools projects which focus on safe water provision, handwashing, menstrual hygiene management and food preparation, and working with partners on hygiene education to manage the risks of contaminated irrigation products.
  • Capacity development activities for strategic partners based on their needs and considering our programme priorities.



Find more information on this programme at our Research and Resources section

Related stories