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Kind schöpft Wasser mit den Händen

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

Kerstin Bandsom Team Communications

Access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) is a human right and a prerequisite for fighting hunger and poverty and one of the Sustainable Development Goals. In cooperation with local partners, Welthungerhilfe has developed a coherent and diverse portfolio of WASH activities in many low- and middle-income countries covering both humanitarian and development contexts. Putting the user first, addressing sustainability, converting needs into demand and promoting hygiene behavior change to effectively block the transmission of diseases, are all fundamental principles for Welthungerhilfe’s work in providing sustainable WASH services that can make a successful impact on hunger and poverty reduction.


But despite substantial gains in access to water, sanitation, and hygiene services over the past thirty years, it is estimated that 2.3 billion people worldwide still lack access to these basic human necessities. For those who have gained access, monitoring trends show that over time, WASH services consistently fail to function as intended. Accordingly, service sustainability is identified as a key challenge to be addressed in order for investments in WASH hardware and software to deliver their intended public health and nutrition impacts.

Titles page of the Position Paper Rural Development – Rural Economy Position Paper Rural Development

The Position Paper on Rural Development sums up Welthungerhilfe’s programmatic and political approaches to improve the conditions which people in poor rural regions of the Global South live in.

Our Approach 

Within the WASH sector there is a growing acknowledgement that existing approaches, which have traditionally focused on the installation and maintenance of hardware (e.g., hand pumps, latrines, hand-washing stations) and community-based management models, will not be sufficient on their own to meet the universal access and service targets of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #6. Given the interconnected nature of financial, institutional, environmental, technological, and social factors that influence sustained service delivery (refer to figure below) Welthungerhilfe started in 2017 to advocate for a systemic approach to sustain WASH service delivery by launching its Sustainable Services Initiative (SSI), an internal programme improving the sustainability of Welthungerhilfe’s WASH programmes and to advocate across the sector and partner countries for a more sustainable approach to WASH programming.

Graphic: WASH System of Welthungerhilfe
WASH System applied by Welthungerhilfe. © Welthungerhilfe

Our Impact

Since 2017 the SSI has been rolled out in 6 countries supporting governmental institutions, local service provider and private actors to improve on WASH service delivery at district and national levels. Already now more than 1 Million people in need living in rural areas are benefitting from improved and sustainable WASH service levels.

Gender inequality is evident in all areas of life in Uganda. For many girls, the onset of menstruation means the end of their education due to a lack of both sexual education and safe menstrual products. Additionally, harmful cultural practices such as female genital mutilation and forced marriage of girls are widespread and socially accepted. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the situation of women and girls in terms of economic inequality, their access to education, and the protection of their rights. Therefore, Welthungerhilfe distributes improved menstrual hygiene products to 3000 women and girls in the Teso and Karamoja regions of Uganda. Through gender transformative dialogues and education on menstrual health and sexual and reproductive health for women and men, boys and girls Welthungerhilfe intends to contribute to improving gender equality and an increased access to education for girls and young women.

Our WASH-related projects are currently supporting 447,000 people in Ethiopia. Most interventions are integrated into multi-sectoral programmes addressing malnutrition, from establishing community development councils to coordinating and implementing villages' decisions to rehabilitate water sources. 

In Iraq and Syria, Welthungerhilfe has been supporting internally displaced people and Syrian civil war victims inside camps with hygiene and sanitation promotion activities. 515,000 people are currently benefiting from improved WASH.

Our Partners and Network

Welthungerhilfe has access to a broad network in the WASH sector, which provides opportunities to exchange with research, sector platforms, to publish learnings and for getting access to international forums. Welthungerhilfe is a member of:

Logo Agenda for Change.
Agenda for Change

The Agenda for Change is a collaboration of organisations who support governments in strengthening WASH systems.

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Logo WASH Netzwerk
WASH Netzwerk

The members of the WASH Network are German non-profit organisations actively engaged in the WASH sector.

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Logo Rural Water supply network

The RWSN is the global network for rural water supply professionals, with 10,000 members in more than 150 countries.

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Logo WASH Cluster
Global WASH Cluster

The Global WASH Cluster is a partnership aiming at improving the coordination and the humanitarian response in the WASH Sector.

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Sustainable Sanitation Alliance

SuSanA is an informal network of people and organisations who share a common vision on sustainable sanitation.

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Our Key Publications