Research on GBV and lighting around WASH facilities

Organisation: Oxfam GB

Partners: Water, Engineering and Development Centre (WEDC) at Loughborough University

Location: IDP and refugee camps in Iraq, Uganda and Nigeria

Type of grant: WASH

Status: Ongoing

  • Borno State, Nigeria

  • Borno State, Nigeria

  • Borno State, Nigeria

  • A solar lamp lit for the first time at Unchiprang Camp. Photo: Rachel Hastie/Oxfam

  • Mohammad explains the attempted theft at Lamp 38 . Photo: Sophie Mack Smith/Oxfam

  • Sameera demonstrates her solar torch. Photo: Sophie Mack Smith/Oxfam

Oxfam and WEDC are conducting research into the effects of lighting on GBV around WASH facilities in camp settings.

What is the humanitarian need?

Going to the toilet is one of the most dangerous things a woman can do in a refugee/IDP camp, due to the risk of sexual violence. This risk is particularly high at night time and lighting is often requested in order to combat this. This research will provide evidence on the connection between lighting and GBV and inform efforts to make WASH facilities safer.

At the same time as conducting research we will be responding to the needs identified by the communities we work with by distributing lighting solutions, ranging from torches to installations, dependent on need.

Research has suggested that GBV can increase due to poor public services, particularly a lack of privacy and security in latrine and bathing facilities (House et al, 2014). However, there is currently a gap in empirical evidence on the impact of latrine and bathing-facility lighting in reducing incidences of GBV in humanitarian camp contexts, increasing health indicators related to WASH, and contributing to user’s overall perception of dignity. Furthermore, there have been few attempts to compare the contribution of different lighting solutions in terms of usability, cost-effectiveness, user preference, and their respective impact in advancing these goals.

What is the innovative solution?

Research to improve humanitarian practice around lighting, GBV and WASH:

  1. To identify the relationship between increased lighting of latrine and bathing facilities with:
  • changes in rates of use for these facilities;
  • changes in community member/end-user’s own perceptions of safety, cleanliness, and dignity.
  1. To compare the efficacy and impact of different lighting options in contributing to these three outcomes, and the preferences of women, adolescent girls, adolescent boys, men and children in using different lighting options. Three specific lighting options will be studied:
  • Moveable lighting sources including torches, lamps, etc
  • Lighting of the latrine and bathing facilities alone (lighting should be provided both for the female and male facilities)
  • Lighting of the whole camp, particularly main routes through the camp, alongside the lighting of latrine and bathing facilities.

What are the expected outcomes?

  • Lighting will be integrated into humanitarian response more systematically and will reduce incidences of GBV as a result.
  • Evidence and recommendations around GBV reduction through lighting will be shared with humanitarian actors.
  • Approx. 6000 displaced people will receive lighting solutions through the project.
  • Following the research, depending on the results, Oxfam will include lighting within the central humanitarian catalogue.
  • The research results will feed into a number of initiatives including UNHCR guidelines on camp design and the IASC GBV guidelines


Elrha is a registered charity in England and Wales (1177110).

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