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This is the INITIAL PRELIMINARY DRAFT version of the UNHCR WASH Manual which anyone can edit!

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UNHCR is currently undertaking an exercise to revise and update their policies, guidelines, tools and procedures related to how water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) interventions must be carried out in refugee settings. The WASH manual aims to not only define philosophies and principles regarding the nature of how WASH programmes should be undertaken, but also aims to clearly define UNHCR's role in terms of setting standards, coordinating, monitoring, capacity building, supporting, and regulating WASH activities.

It's worth noting that the aim of the UNHCR WASH manual is not to replace existing standards (e.g. SPHERE, or UNHCR Handbook for Emergencies) but instead to build on these initiatives to ensure there is a complete set of WASH quality standards for refugee settings that extend beyond the emergency phase and cover the whole displacement cycle including protracted situations, repatriation, and reintegration phases - with additional policies such as..

  • Ensuring value for money
  • Appropriate technology selection
  • Guaranteeing safety and security
  • Ensuring consultation, participation and cultural norms
  • Ensuring universal access
  • Ensuring WASH infrastructure design and build quality
  • WASH solutions for urban settings
  • Working through local WASH service providers and authorities
  • Monitoring the efficiency and productivity of WASH services
  • Ensuring clearly documented short, medium and long term strategies with durable solutions
  • UNHCR's role in WASH sector coordination for refugee emergencies
  • WASH contingency planning
  • WASH guidance for repatriation/integration
  • WASH and the environment
  • Guidance for medium and long-term WASH programming (including VLOMM, CLTS, wastewater reuse, biogas production, multiple use water for refugee livestock, agriculture, and economic activities)

It is planned that the document will capture WASH lessons learned and best practice from the last 20 years and ensure that the guidance created is relevant to the changing nature of displacement emergencies in particular long-term protracted emergencies, large scale displacement in urban settings, spontaneous (unplanned) camps, high-density camps, WASH assistance to refugees living with host families, and WASH assistance to refugee families in rented accommodation or squatting in buildings.

In order to ensure that these policies, guidelines, tools and procedures are developed in an open and transparent manner and are both realistic and relevant, the process of developing, revising and finally approving these materials is heavily dependent upon open collaboration with WASH actors. UNHCR is delighted to hear from any WASH actors, UNHCR Regional WASH Officers, UNHCR Country WASH Officers, UNHCR Public Health Officers, UN technical agencies, Government actors and independent individuals with extensive WASH experience in refugee settings - who are interested in participating in the development of this document.

In order to facilitate a large number of organisations and individuals to contribute to this process, a WIKI version of the UNHCR WASH Manual has been created that is capable of recording large volumes of updates from multiple contributors in real time, while automatically and clearly labelling who contributed what.

Our aim is to use this WIKI to eventually print a hard copy of the finalised UNHCR WASH Manual following the format of the sample chapters below. It is also highly likely that the WIKI will be left open to be updated and ammended by WASH actors - with updated versions of the WASH Manual being released when appropriate.

All WASH actors are genuinely welcome and warmly encouraged to discuss, correct and modify this WIKI and add also feel free to suggest or add new content! The efforts of all individuals and organisations that contribute to this initiative will be recognized in the Manual's acknowledgements section. We thank you in advance for your enthusiasm and support with this initiative.


Ben Harvey
UNHCR WASH Consultant

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Thank you to the following authors who have contributed to this page.

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» Ben Harvey - UNHCR Consultant

» Simon Wylde