Water, sanitation and hygiene
Read caption In 2019, we provided this school in Herat, Afghanistan, with toilets, clean hand washing facilities and hygiene kits. This project was delivered as part of a collaboration between our education and WASH programmes. Photo: Enayatullah Azad/NRC

Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) promotion

For people displaced by conflict, access to clean water and appropriate sanitation facilities are amongst the most urgent of all needs.

People reached in 2023

In total


people benefited from our WASH work

Without enough safe water for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene, it is difficult to maintain good health and fight off illnesses. Without proper sanitation, water supplies can become contaminated and diseases can spread rapidly. We specialise in WASH services to protect the public health of displaced people and local communities, and to help protect their right to safe water and sanitation.

The lack of access to WASH facilities in shelters or camps deprives displaced families of the opportunity to make their shelters into homes, and their settlements into communities. By providing appropriate water and sanitation infrastructure, and educating people on good hygiene practices, we help displaced families achieve dignified living conditions.

Our expertise in WASH

Our WASH programmes seek to save lives, prevent diseases, promote dignity, and support access to better living conditions and livelihood opportunities. We do this through direct interventions, in collaboration with our shelter, education and livelihoods and food security experts, and through partnerships with other organisations. The mode of operation we choose depends primarily on the WASH needs of our targeted beneficiaries, and the quickest and most effective way to meet those identified needs.

We recognise that the need for water and sanitation goes beyond public health concerns. The absence of functioning, safe and sex-segregated latrines or toilets can discourage children and youth, especially girls, from attending school. We actively support the right to education by ensuring safe WASH facilities at schools are accessible to all students and teachers. Our WASH teams collaborate with teachers and administrators on delivering up-to-date hygiene promotion curricula.

Our WASH programmes focus on five thematic areas:

  • Supplying safe water for drinking, cooking, personal hygiene and household cleaning.
  • Providing and maintaining latrines or toilets segregated by gender, or family units that are safe for women, girls, men and boys to use at all times.
  • Active disease surveillance and increased vigilance on water quality and sanitation practices during disease outbreaks.
  • Solid waste management and site drainage activities, to reduce standing water and garbage where disease-carrying mosquitos or vermin can breed.
  • Hygiene promotion and community mobilisation to promote safe hygiene and health-seeking behaviours, and to empower displaced people to take an active role in WASH operations.