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WASH, used in international development programs, refers to "Water, Sanitation and Hygiene". Specifically it may for example refer to a water, sanitation and hygiene project or an advocacy campaign initiated by a national or international organization. Access to safe water, adequate sanitation, and proper hygiene education can reduce illness and death, and also impact poverty reduction and socioeconomic development.
These areas are treated together as the impact of deficiencies in each area overlap strongly, and so to achieve a strong positive impact on public health, they need to be addressed together. However, traditionally the "S" (sanitation) and the "H" (hygiene) of WASH have often been receiving considerably less attention and funding than the "WA" (water) in most WASH programmes. This is slowly changing since about 2008 which was the United Nation's "Year of Sanitation" and has put the spotlight on the worldwide sanitation crisis.
Researchers at the Overseas Development Institute have promoted the value of political economy analysis to better understand the complexities of specific contexts when attempting to identify appropriate responses to WASH challenges in developing countries. They argue that 'best-practice' models of WASH service provision are unlikely to work when applied to real-world contexts. According to the researchers, political economy analysis can help to identify 'best fit' solutions that take into account existing institutions, policies and incentives and so stand a better chance of succeeding.
A WHO report found that only one-third of the countries surveyed have national WASH plans that are being fully implemented, funded and regularly reviewed. In most countries monitoring was inconsistent and there were critical gaps. Reliable data is essential to inform policy decision, to monitoring and evaluate outcomes, and to identify those who do not have access to WASH. Many countries have WASH monitoring frameworks in place, but most of the data reported was inconsistent, weakening evaluation and outcome data analysis.
- Kooy, M. and Harris, D. (2012) Briefing paper: Political economy analysis for water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) service delivery. Overseas Development Institute
- "UN reveals major gaps in water and sanitation – especially in rural areas". WHO. Retrieved 19 March 2015.
- Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) - UNHCR website
- Global Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Home - Healthy Water - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website
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