What We Do – WASH in Refugee Settings

“Clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to the realisation of all human rights.”

Adapted from UN General Assembly Resolution 64/292 July 28 2010

The water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector aims to ensure that all people have access to safe and sufficient water, safely managed sanitation and live in hygienic conditions. UNHCR is committed to promote the progressive realization of the human rights to water and sanitation for all persons of concern to UNHCR globally and is working with partners to provide WASH services to roughly 8 million refugees in about 30 countries.

UNHCR’s WASH response in refugee emergencies ensures immediate survival, dignity and the prevention of disease outbreaks. Given the stark reality that refugee displacements now last for an average of 20 years and some refugee camps have been in existence for over 40 years. UNHCR works to integrate long-term planning for sustainable development from as early as possible in an emergency response.

UNHCR uses a comprehensive WASH monitoring framework to track the WASH services provided to refugees. The WASH monitoring system is also a mechanism for UNHCR to hold itself accountable to all persons of concern, governments and donors.

UNHCR’S WASH programmes are guided by the Global Compact for Refugees and work with civil society, governments, academia and the private sector to scale-up emergency responses, ensure increased capacities and service-levels for refugees and host communities and foster livelihood opportunities linked to WASH interventions.

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