Innovating Emergency WASH
The HIF has launched an ambitious new programme of work to stimulate innovation in emergency water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). This new initiative is supported by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), and is seeking to use new innovation management approaches to address some of the most pressing challenges faced by emergency WASH practitioners working in humanitarian crises globally.
The HIF is working with technical experts and innovation specialists on two parallel innovation routes:
- Open Innovation Challenges seeking novel solutions from far and wide.
- Accelerated Innovation Pathways brokering new collaborations between actors to create new research and development partnerships.
The specific 'open innovation' and 'accelerated innovation' challenges have been developed by the HIF's WASH Technical Working Group, chaired by Andy Bastable from Oxfam UK. In collaboration with the HIF they have explored, in detail, the gaps in innovation identified by the WASH sector, and developed and refined a number of specific challenges most suited to being approached through facilitated innovation processes.
Limited access to clean water and poor sanitation are critical drivers for the spread of diarrhoeal diseases, constituting a critical challenge during periods of crisis. Such diseases account for more than 40% of deaths in the acute emergency phase, and for 80% of deaths in children under two. Girls and women are particularly affected by lack of well-designed latrines and access to safe water.
Recent years have seen considerable demand from implementing agencies for innovations in the WASH programming options open to them. This includes a number of ongoing initiatives (listed below).
Since 2011, the HIF has funded a number of such innovations, including new water filtration technologies; water disinfection protocols; kits for menstrual hygiene management; and work to explore targeting WASH services for children, often amongst the most vulnerable during emergencies.
Identifying Critical Gaps and Challenges
During 2013, the HIF has convened expertise from agencies working on emergency WASH, and sought to systematically identify key programming gaps.
A Gap Analysis, conducted by Oxfam GB on behalf of the HIF, involved consultation with over 900 people across nearly 40 countries, spanning 45 organisations including donors, UN agencies, and international and national NGOs as well as consultations with affected populations. The analysis identified and sought to prioritise over 50 programming gaps, with examples of priority areas including:
• Latrine design, including latrine alternatives in urban areas or where flooding is prevalent, as well as measures to ensure safe use such as lighting and maintenance.
• Waste management issues, including drainage, desludging and excreta disposal, as well as solid was management in emergency settings.
• Community participation and hygiene promotion, spanning hand washing and sanitation marketing issues.
• Water treatment and storage challenges, including the need the need for new water containers and bulk and point of use household filters.