Surface Water Management in Refugee Camps

Organisation: Ove Arup & Partners Ltd

Partners: Oxfam; CIRIA; WEDC; Illman Young; EPG

Location: UK

Type of grant: WASH

Status: Ongoing


We are carrying out a scoping study with a view to creating improved guidance for decision makers to plan for and manage surface water better in refugee camps.

What is the humanitarian need?

Poor management of surface water in refugee camps causes flooding and waterlogging, with adverse effects on the residents. This surface water can support the development of vector-borne diseases such as malaria or dengue as well as worm infections and provide a route for water-borne diseases such as cholera, hepatitis E or typhoid.  It makes the movement of people and vehicles around the camps difficult, thus delaying the provision of essential water and sanitation services.

What is the innovative solution?

Field practitioners and decision makers need more awareness and guidance on the management of surface water on refugee camps. This scoping study will explore the opportunities for developing guidance, the application of good practice and sustainable drainage. It will also tackle some of the specific challenges that include:

  • Breeding ground for vectors
  • Decreased water quality
  • Lack of data for design
  • Institutional arrangements
  • Lack of time and cost for construction

Our innovation will be to create one guidance toolkit for decision makers and field practitioners with design principles, examples of solutions and case studies.

What are the expected outcomes?

The outcome of the first stage is a scoping report, incorporating both a literature review and stakeholder engagement to identify the main constraints and opportunities in managing surface water.  This will then result in the finalised proposal for the guidance toolkit.

The guidance toolkit will use existing good practice in the field as well as good practice from around the world to provide solutions and approaches for managing surface water on refugee camps.


Elrha is hosted by Save the Children, a registered charity in England and Wales (213890) and Scotland (SC039570).

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