In the Humanitarian Innovation Fund Gap Analysis for water, sanitation, and hygiene issues, field staff identified environmental management of surface water as an area of concern, although this was not reflected at a head office level. This difference of perspectives could be an under-reporting of this aspect of environmental sanitation to the global humanitarian community or a failure of experts to communicate the required response to surface water management in camps for displaced people.
Pit latrine linings for emergency sanitation facilities require different performance criteria from those for pits used in longer-term development work. Various international initiatives are currently under way to develop new methods of supporting the pits used for latrines in emergencies, but before a solution can be found, the problem needs to be defined. Current field guidance lacks the level of detail required by humanitarian workers to construct durable pits in a timely manner.
Recent systematic reviews have highlighted a paucity of rigorous evidence to guide water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) interventions in humanitarian crises. In June 2017, the Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises (R2HC) programme of Elrha, convened a meeting of representatives from international response agencies, research institutions and donor organisations active in the field of humanitarian WASH to identify research priorities, discuss challenges conducting research and to establish next steps.
When the Asian tsunami struck the Andaman Islands, nearly 7,000 people were relocated in six camps. In spite of the large number of bathing and sanitation facilities built, water and sanitation conditions remained unsatisfactory in four of the camps. The facilities had been constructed without consulting their users.
Lighting should be provided for WASH facilities in Humanitarian contexts according to several standards. Evidence for this and the practical budget, operational and management responsibilities are less clear. A three-country research project looking at the impact of lighting on WASH use and Gender-Based Violence (GBV) required a multi-disciplinary approach, combining OXFAM's practical implementing expertise with WEDC's research-oriented approach. The research showed how much more is needed for safe sanitation than just building latrines.