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Building Resilient WASH Systems in Fragile Contexts

Currently, more than two billion people live in 58 fragile, including 15 extremely and conflict-affected contexts, and it is estimated that by 2030 approx. 80 percent of the world's poor will live in such contexts.1 People in extremely fragile contexts are 4 times more likely to lack basic sanitation and 8 times as likely to lack basic drinking water services. With an annual financing gap of US$ 60 billion fragile contexts represent half of the world’s financing gap to meet Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6. On current trajectory the world will not meet the SDG targets in 2030, without a significant shift in thinking and practice. At the same time, the chronically underfunded humanitarian WASH system is being challenged by an increasing number of people in need of WASH assistance (98 million in 2018) and by the need to respond to a growing number of complex and protracted crises.

How can we collectively strengthen the resilience of the WASH sector to ensure predictable emergency response while protecting SDG gains?

This was the burning question discussed at a learning and working event organised and facilitated by the GTO at the UNHCR in Geneva in December 2019. GTO has taken the initiative to host the event to advance current initiatives with great momentum: the Global WASH Cluster (GWC) is developing a global roadmap to refocus the sector in its strategic thinking and current reformulation of the Sanitation and Water for All-Partnership (SWA) strategy provided another window of opportunity to strive for a harmonization of development and humanitarian frameworks and coordinative platforms in the WASH sector.

The very promising results of the event will inform the GWC Global Roadmap for Humanitarian WASH and can feed into the SWA strategy process. Many tangible actions to be carried out by the two global platforms and its partners have been identified. The formation of a working group aiming to follow up the meeting and drive the humanitarian development nexus agenda was recommended by a majority of participants.

The event was co-convened by the GWC, SWA, UNICEF, the IFRC and the German WASH Network and funded by the Federal Foreign Office of Germany. Participants included a balanced share of humanitarian and development WASH decision makers and experts from 16x INGOs, RC, 4x UN agencies, 3x global platforms, 1x development bank and 3x donor agencies.

You can download the event report here:

Event Report