arrow_backEmergency WASH

X.4 Institutional and Regulatory Environment

During humanitarian emergencies, states are primarily responsible for the safety and security of the affected population as well as for refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) on their territory. National laws, regulations, standards and codes provide the architecture for the emergency response, including sanitation and other WASH interventions. Regulations specify how sanitation services are to be provided and by whom, what delivery standards should be met, the ownership of infrastructure and services, and how operation and maintenance models are to be designed and implemented. Standards and codes specify, for example, the level of wastewater treatment needed to protect the quality of receiving waters, the design of sanitation technologies, or the quality of material and equipment to be used in the performance of environmental services.

The overall WASH emergency response is implemented by water and sanitation related government departments. Local government therefore plays an important role and is usually responsible for all local public services, land issues, and disposal and discharge sites. National policies and decisions will therefore have a major impact on the approach that local authorities take in the relief effort in general.

In reality, many countries experiencing conflict, natural disaster or any public emergency often are confronted with significant constraints in terms of capacities and resources and are therefore unable to fully assume the responsibility for the coordination and implementation of an effective response. In such cases, the government may request non-state actors such as the operational UN organisations, local and international NGOs, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and private companies to support in delivering the humanitarian requirements of the affected population.

The means of safely collecting and hygienically disposing of excreta and liquid wastes for the protection of public health and the preservation of the quality of public water bodies and, more generally, of the environment. Used water from any combination of domestic, industrial, commercial or agricultural activities, surface runoff/stormwater, and any sewer inflow/infiltration.

Coordination of Response Delivery

It is of utmost importance that emergency response operations supported by external or non-governmental agencies do not counteract or operate in isolation or in parallel to government efforts. Existing national capacities and local structures should always be the starting point when planning emergency response services, and where required should be assisted by targeted capacity building measures.

To ensure effective coordination between the government and different WASH actors, external coordination mechanisms such as the WASH Cluster may be necessary. The Global WASH Cluster provides an open, formal platform for all emergency WASH actors to coordinate and work together. For the WASH Cluster, the cluster lead agency is UNICEF. In some instances, the WASH Cluster can also be administered or co-led by a local or international NGO that has the WASH expertise and the necessary local networks to fulfil this role. Cluster coordination arrangements will depend on the government, UN and NGO response capacity and the presence and effectiveness of existing coordination mechanisms as well as on the scale, phasing, and anticipated duration of the emergency. Whatever structure is adopted, it must  be flexible enough to suit all stages of the emergency response e.g. expanding during intensive relief activities and scaling back as the Cluster merges or phases out. Identifying an appropriate coordination structure at the national level will depend on the government structures and coordination mechanisms that are already in place.

External humanitarian actors have basically three different ways of interacting with a specific country context: (1) they coordinate their relief interventions via the established WASH cluster mechanism, (2) they are directly involved in the humanitarian relief interventions and (3) they partner with or (financially) support local actors in their efforts to deliver adequate response.

Legal and Regulatory Framework

When planning a WASH response, national laws and regulations regarding sanitation infrastructure need to be understood. Laws generally provide the overall framework within which regulations provide the more detailed guidance. A range of laws address wastewater management, including environmental legislation, public health laws and planning laws, within which standards for water quality, wastewater discharge, effluent quality and re use as well as environmental standards to protect water sources can be found. Codes of practice often state which systems are accepted and how they should be designed and built.

It may not be possible in the acute phase of the emergency to design sanitation systems in line with national standards and regulations; the solutions should be discussed with the responsible authorities. Pilot status and moratoria are ways to implement infrastructure out of the existing codes of practice and standards, and may also lay the ground for future reforms.

Planning with the hand-over and exit strategy in mind X.6 typically increases the overall acceptability and potential sustainability of new systems. If national guidelines are not specific or existent, the Sphere Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response should be referred to for standards.

General term for a liquid that leaves a technology, typically after blackwater or sludge has undergone solids separation or some other type of treatment. Effluent originates at either a collection and storage or a (semi-) centralised treatment technology. Depending on the type of treatment, the effluent may be completely sanitised or may require further treatment before it can be used or disposed of.Mixture of solids and liquids, containing mostly excreta and water, in combination with sand, grit, metals, trash and/or various chemical compounds. A distinction can be made between faecal sludge and wastewater sludge. Faecal sludge comes from on-site sanitation technologies, i.e. it has not been transported through a sewer. It can be raw or partially digested, a slurry or semisolid, and results from the collection and storage/treatment of excreta or blackwater, with or without greywater. Wastewater sludge (also referred to as sewage sludge) originates from sewer-based wastewater collection and (semi-)centralised treatment processes. The sludge composition will determine the type of treatment that is required and the end-use possibilities.Describes technologies for on-site collection, storage, and sometimes (pre-) treatment of the products generated at the user interface. The treatment provided by these technologies is often a function of storage and is usually passive (i.e. requires no energy input), except a few emerging technologies where additives are needed. Thus, products that are ‘treated’ by these technologies often require subsequent treatment before use and/or disposal. In the technology overview graphic, this functional group is subdivided into the two subgroups: “Collection/Storage” and “(Pre-)Treatment”. This allows a further classification for each of the listed technologies with regard to their function: collection and storage, (pre-) treatment only or both.Refers to the methods through which products are returned to the environment, either as useful resources or reduced-risk materials. Some products can also be cycled back into a system (e.g. by using treated greywater for flushing).A functional group is a grouping of technologies that have similar functions. The compendium proposes five different functional groups from which technologies can be chosen to build a sanitation system: User interface (U), Collection and Storage/Treatment (S), Conveyance (C), (Semi-) Centralised Treatment (T), Use and/or Disposal (U). A sanitation system is a multi-step process in which sanitation products such as human excreta and wastewater are managed from the point of generation to the point of use or ultimate disposal. It is a context-specific series of technologies and services for the management of these sanitation products, i.e. for their collection, containment, transport, treatment, transformation, use or disposal. A sanitation system comprises functional groups of technologies that can be selected according to context. By selecting technologies from each applicable functional group, considering the incoming and outgoing products, and the suitability of the technologies in a particular context, a logical, modular sanitation system can be designed. A sanitation system also includes the management and operation and maintenance (O & M) required to ensure that the system functions safely and sustainably. The utilisation of products derived from a sanitation system. A sanitation system in which excreta and wastewater are collected and stored or treated on the plot where they are generated. The means of safely collecting and hygienically disposing of excreta and liquid wastes for the protection of public health and the preservation of the quality of public water bodies and, more generally, of the environment. Waste matter that is transported through the sewer. An open channel or closed pipe used to convey sewage. See C.3 and C.4 Used water from any combination of domestic, industrial, commercial or agricultural activities, surface runoff/stormwater, and any sewer inflow/infiltration.