Strengthening water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) systems
Planning, analysis and collaboration for better-informed programmes.
WASH services require strong national policies, financial systems, and monitoring in order to be sustainable, resilient and accountable. But in many countries, institutional structures remain fragile.
Countries that cannot sufficiently fund WASH services for those in need must strive for better coordination between governments and development partners at all stages of implementation. Adequate human resources and clear roles of government institutions and regulators are also critical.
In many cases, WASH services are planned without timely or accurate data. Budgets are set based on historical patterns rather than the needs of the population.
Government budgets for financing WASH, especially WASH infrastructure, and for expanding services to those in need remain low. Private sector investment is also insufficient, given the lack of legal frameworks, associated risks, and low returns in the water and sanitation business. As a result, one of the greatest barriers to achieving WASH-related targets is the large spending gap.
Without strong governance, neither government stakeholders nor donors and development partners can be held accountable. What’s more, few WASH programmes are reviewed for their impact using high-quality evaluations.
UNICEF remains focused on strengthening governments’ capacities to manage the WASH sector. Our programmes support government policies, strategies, public financing and coordination with other development partners.
UNICEF works in the following areas to strengthen WASH systems worldwide:
Data and evidence
The WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for WASH is the leading source of estimates of progress towards targets laid out in the Sustainable Development Goals. Covering over 190 countries and territories, the programme has established mechanisms for collecting and compiling country data. These estimates help enhance sector monitoring, communicate gaps in WASH services, and raise funds.
Collaboration in WASH
As a key player in the WASH sector, UNICEF is part of many global, regional and national partnerships. We host Sanitation and Water for All (SWA), a global partnership of governments, donors, civil society organizations and other development stakeholders that coordinates on improved accountability and resource allocation.
UNICEF is also an active participant in UN Water, which coordinates the work of the United Nations in the areas of water and sanitation. We are a founding member of WASH4WORK, and play a leading role in the WASH Working Group and the Grand Menstrual Health and Hygiene Management Collective. UNICEF continues to leverage the private sector for financing, information, social change and system strengthening.
UNICEF offers face-to-face training for governments as well as online courses for partners and staff in strengthening WASH systems. Our work in countries helps build local governments’ capacities for emergency planning, the collection and use of child services data, and coordination with the private sector and civil society.
With an eye on the Sustainable Development Goals, UNICEF regularly evaluates its work at the country, regional and global levels to improve our programmes and strategies. These evaluations help us understand what is working, what needs to be improved or changed, and what should be scaled up.