When Médecins Sans Frontières researcher Andrew Cunningham set out to interview key players in water and sanitation, he found quick agreement about the problem: A huge gap in emergency WASH interventions. Few actors are providing even fewer services in the first three months of many humanitarian crises — a critical period for the health and well-being of those affected.
There is less agreement on how to plug the holes in WASH coverage. MSF, a medical relief organization that will step in to provide emergency WASH when needed, set out to look for fixes. Cunningham’s report, published July 10, details the roots of the problem and discusses ideas on how to move forward.
Specifically, the report looks at how individual organizations and the sector as a whole can improve its response. Organizations need more capacity, willingness, expertise and flexibility, while the sector needs to better sequence funding, rethink development approaches and better manage transitions to long-term WASH, Cunningham argues.
Across the board, the report argues that organizations must be more willing to step in. At a time when many global crises are the result of conflict, more actors are risk averse in the initial months.