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Published on: 03/08/2023


WASH Systems for Health will support governments in up to six countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia to strengthen the systems needed to establish reliable, resilient and inclusive WASH services over five years. The programme will contribute to better health, nutrition and education, especially for poorer households and communities, and for women and girls in particular, with the aim to end the preventable deaths of mothers, young children and infants (EPD). The programme's focus on systems aims to enhance the sustainability of WASH services; ensure that women are empowered to take informed decisions about the services they receive; and attract new public and private finance to accelerate progress towards SDG 6 WASH targets – including universal access to safely managed WASH services.

Up to six priority countries will be selected from a group of sixteen. This includes eleven designated flagships that form the core of the the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office's (FCDO) approach to ending the preventable deaths (EPD) of mothers, young children and infants and five countries where investment in WASH systems will complement existing programmes. Intervention countries will undergo a comprehensive needs assessments and will be prioritised considering the national context – taking into account political demand, willingness and ability to drive a process of reform and complementarity to existing WASH and other programmes. The selection process is critical to ensure maximum impact and value for money and will last up to 12 months (Phase I). Implementation will be programmed over the following four years (Phase II), ensuring there is sufficient time to embed change. The programme's influence extends well beyond six priority countries. It is designed to help the WASH sector shift from infrastructure delivery with limited reliability to reinforcing the core systems needed to establish inclusive, sustainable and resilient services. 

Alongside implementation of the programme, a research and learning agenda on WASH systems strengthening will be established and will ensure lessons learnt are captured and widely communicated from the programme to the global WASH sector. There will also be a Global WASH Systems Support Hub available which will respond to demand from ODA-eligible governments for advice and support on WASH systems strengthening.

IRC will lead a consortium of partners, made up of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and University of Leeds, to establish the WASH Systems For Health Facility, which manage and coordinate the strategic delivery of the programme. The Facility will conduct initial assessments in 16 countries, with follow-up assessments in six countries following a prioritisation exercise during Phase I; develop a results framework (progress of WASH systems strengthening efforts will be monitored and evaluated throughout Phase II as part of monitoring, evaluation and learning or MEL); establish a research and learning agenda for WASH systems strengthening; and provide a Global WASH Systems Support Hub. The hub, which will be operational throughout Phase II, will enable governments in ODA-eligible countries to receive tailored advice and support on WASH systems strengthening.

Based on established mechanisms, the Global WASH Systems Support Hub is likely to offer two types of service – a help desk, which would respond rapidly to specific requests for information and advice, and a call-down service for more substantial pieces of work typically requiring a site visit or face-to-face meetings. Work would be allocated to appropriate in-house experts, supplemented by external consultants (which could be national or international, depending on the requirement) and can be commissioned from any ODA-eligible government or FCDO post.

Supporting documentation: Read the WASH Systems for Health: Business Case, FCDO, 23 Jan 2023

Official project pages: FCDO Development Tracker | UN SDG Actions Platform 

Expected impact

This new and additional action will help strength the core systems used by governments to establish and sustain WASH services; services which are inclusive, sustainable and resilient to the impacts of climate change - benefiting people's health, wellbeing and future resilience. Beyond supporting SDG 6 targets 6.1, 6.2 and 6.3, the action will also contribute to universal health coverage, with a focus on prevention that extends to improving access to WASH in health care facilities and schools, and quality education received in particular by girls. The principal impact of the programme is to improve health and help end the preventable deaths '(EPD) of mothers, young children and infants.

Participating organisations

Accountable: Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)
Funding: Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)

Partners - Phase 1 (Feb 2023 - Mar 2024) - WASH Systems Facility design and implementation

Partners - Phase 2 (Apr 2024 - Mar 2028): Strengthening WASH systems – governance, institutions and actions

  • To be determined

Programme budget

  • £18,499,972
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