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Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

Examples of UNICEF action in emergencies


Emergency: Drought and conflict, 1999 – present

Scale of UNICEF water and sanitation response: Water services and facilities in camps and communities in 60 per cent of the country over three years.

Key successes: UNICEF’s long-term working relationships with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and private contractors ensured that  water and sanitation efforts, including drilling operations, continued despite the bombing campaign.


Emergency: Floods, Annually          

Scale of UNICEF water and sanitation response: Raising hygiene awareness, repairing handpumps, disinfecting wells and providing temporary water and sanitation facilities for millions of affected people.            

Key successes: UNICEF’s existing water and sanitation  capacity and 30-year partnership with the government allows it to support strategic interventions quickly, where they are most needed.


Emergency: Conflict, Ongoing since 1993   

Scale of UNICEF water and sanitation response: Long-term water and sanitation support to refugees and the affected local population (about 150,000 people) in seven provinces in the areas of hygiene promotion, sanitation,  water distribution and purification.      

Key successes: Effective and timely response was attributed to good coordination between efforts with partners and the application of emergency response and preparedness plans. There are indications that the emergency programmes have resulted in improved hygiene awareness and practices.

© UNICEF/HQ99-0348/Horner
A portable toilet, provided by UNICEF during the 1999 earthquake in Quindio, Columbia.


Emergency: Earthquake and landslides, 1999

Scale of UNICEF water and sanitation response: UNICEF responsible for coordinating assistance to the affected population of 400,000. Direct support provided in the area of sanitation and water quality.   

Key successes: The timely provision of mobile latrines in strategic areas throughout the disaster area and water quality control at all distribution points. The experience has helped to improve UNICEF emergency preparedness nationally and regionally.

East Timor

Emergency: Internal conflict, 1999 - 2000    

Scale of UNICEF water and sanitation response: Comprehensive emergency  water and sanitation efforts covering 850,000 people throughout the country.           

Key successes: Providing  water and sanitation facilities in camps, villages and schools and developing local hygiene promotion guidelines. Emergency actions led to the creation of the National Sanitation Association and the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Secretariat.


Emergency: Drought and War, 2000 - 2001   

Scale of UNICEF water and sanitation response: Drilling, rehabilitating wells, and sanitation activities through government focussing on the 350,000 people affected by the border conflict and 5 million affected by drought. More than $10 million raised for the emergency  water and sanitation programme.     

Key successes: Linking emergency programming with ongoing (non-emergency) programmes and systems. Applying, demonstrating and promoting cost-effective approaches during and after the emergency.


Emergency: Hurricane, 1998 - 2001    

Scale of UNICEF water and sanitation response: Support to water and sanitation activities for the 1.9 million affected nationally over a four-month period. Reconstruction for an additional three years.  

Key successes: Safe water was provided to 800,000 people in Tegucigalpa, including in hospitals and shelters. Participatory hygiene awareness-raising techniques and coordinating with partners and stakeholders were successful.


Emergency: Sanctions and conflict, Ongoing          

Scale of UNICEF water and sanitation response: Ongoing response to long-term complex emergency that has resulted in significant drops in water and sanitation  coverage and access over the last 10 years. Emergency response, including water trucking, immediately after recent conflict.           

Key successes: Extensive emergency interventions helped meet immediate needs of people during and immediately after both wars. Through a long-standing presence in both the north and south of the country, UNICEF continues to focus on rehabilitating infrastructure and reversing the declines in coverage.


Emergency: Floods, 2000 –2001

Scale of UNICEF water and sanitation response: Hygiene education and sanitation and water facilities for over 250,000 people over two years of successive flooding. UNICEF coordinated all external assistance at the government’s request..          

Key successes: Lessons learned in 2000 led to a more timely, effective and better coordinated response in 2001. Efforts focused on hygiene education and cholera prevention through innovative communication techniques, including theatrical productions.


Emergency: Conflict and drought, Ongoing          

Scale of UNICEF water and sanitation response: Comprehensive  water and sanitation support provided in both northern and southern parts of the country.           

Key successes: Site-specific actions, including drilling, installing hand pumps, constructing piped water systems, building latrines and hygiene education.



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