In crowded camps, well water is easily contaminated and refugees susceptible to disease. How did a combination of fieldworker initiative, student design, and a little improvisation result in a simple — if short-term — chlorine-dosing device?
As humanitarians we must be deeply concerned about using the most effective solutions for saving lives and reducing morbidity, whilst working within reasonable cost envelopes. In this respect it is critical to place the brightest spotlight upon the practice of using bulk water treatment units (BWTU), as witnessed most recently on a massive scale in the Pakistan floods of 2010. There, as in other huge crises, many BWTUs were deployed by donors and other agencies, sometimes as a knee-jerk reaction to an overwhelming crisis. These appear to offer neat ‘plug and play’ solutions that also happen to be very media friendly. However, some of the BWTUs sent to flood-affected areas of Pakistan in 2010 demonstrate that there is an absence of appropriate selection criteria for BWTUs and the significant limitations on their use are not fully understood. Though the evidence gathered is partial, there is enough to suggest that some agencies are engaging in poor practice.
Subsidies for WASH in development, mitigation, relief, and recovery: a critical but neglected aspect of practice
This paper seeks to put the spotlight on the practice of subsidy or payments given to communities and the differences that exist between payments in the so-called development–relief contiguum. There are good reasons for these differences, but there is little consistency in the application of subsidy within each part of this contiguum and no clear policy on how one changes payments as one moves from one part of the contiguum to another. This paper does not take a position on what level of subsidy is necessary or useful in each phase, but asks why there has been such a lack of attention to this and, as a consequence, inconsistency of practice.
Rebuilding household toilets after the Nepal earthquake: an emergency or an interruption to development?
This paper considers the damage to household toilets in the aftermath of the 2015 Nepal earthquake through the lens of good performance in progress towards national sanitation targets. In doing so it highlights the very different drivers of development and emergency relief, an issue that is rarely documented. It draws upon expert opinion and first-hand observation to put a spotlight on conflicting approaches in the transition phase and seeks to understand how these were navigated at the national policy level and in practice at the district level. In doing so the paper contributes to discussions about what better preparedness measures could be undertaken and how sanitation gains can be maintained in the face of natural hazards/climate change and supported better after disaster strikes.