Evidence and co-ordination for WASH: Making progress

Published on 27/07/2018

Since Elrha’s inception almost a decade ago, we’ve advocated for a more strategic, sector-wide approach to evidence and learning that translates into improved humanitarian action.

GWC 2018 Berlin Annual Meeting

The demand for a Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) research agenda has recently increased, reflecting the desire to fill the gaps in evidence required for effective and efficient humanitarian interventions. This demand led to our R2HC programme convening a meeting in June last year, bringing together fourteen WASH experts representing international response agencies, research institutions and donor organisations active in the field of humanitarian WASH. The aim of this meeting was to identify research priorities, discuss challenges conducting WASH research and to establish next steps for taking forward a WASH research agenda (Read the resulting briefing paper).

Whilst several international response agencies have existing research programmes, it was evident that a clear and complementary sector-wide research agenda informed by identified priority areas is key to coalescing the academic, programmatic and funding communities around the goal of getting a coordinated set of priority WASH research studies developed and funded in the next 2-3 years. In addition, the engagement of all members of the Global WASH Cluster (GWC) was flagged as important to establish a representative view of research priorities, and to ensure the adoption of ‘what works’ by humanitarian WASH responders.

We’re pleased to share the following progress directly resulting from the above consultation:

Conflict and Health have recently published ‘Setting priorities for humanitarian water, sanitation and hygiene research: a meeting report’ which shares the conclusions of the 2017 meeting and proposes a research agenda with the aim of strengthening humanitarian WASH policy and practice.

Following the GWC 2018 Annual Meeting in Berlin the GWC has recently announced its new WASH and Research Technical Working Group (TWiG), taking a significant lead in advocating for greater evidence-based programming within the sector by:

  • Defining gaps in evidence base for humanitarian WASH and in doing so advocating for resources
  • Enabling key research to be disseminated in a coordinated way with maximum outreach
  • Enabling sharing of information on key capacity building events especially for field-based WASH personnel
  • Promoting partnership at global and country levels between WASH research and WASH implementers, and
  • Building a better culture of monitoring and evaluation as a basis to measure our collective impact from inter-sectoral action

We are committed to championing the WASH and Research TWiG, and continuing to support the success of WASH research and innovation funded by us through Elrha’s programmes, and others, in driving this strategic approach to ensure the increased effectiveness of humanitarian WASH interventions for the most vulnerable. The next GWC TWiG meeting will take place in January 2019 – contact Sarah Palmer-Felgate, R2HC Partnerships Manager, for more information.

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

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