The global water and sanitation challenges that governments, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and other international organizations work to improve are best described by the four UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that apply to the water and sanitation sector.
Effectiveness of water supply and sanitation projects depends not only on the choice of technology, but on community management and behavioural change as well.
History of IFRC water and sanitation initiatives
IFRC begins long-term engagement with inter-agency water and sanitation working group, representing the major players in emergency water and sanitation.
First water and sanitation Emergency Response Unit (ERU) deployed to provide a rapid response capacity of equipment and personnel. To date, over 6 million people have been assisted by ERUs in more than 55 major emergencies.
IFRC regional water and sanitation delegates deployed to provide support to national water and sanitation projects and initiatives in key regions especially, Asia, Africa and the Americas. To date, over 2 million people have benefited.
MDGs launched, with significant water and sanitation components for the period 2000-2015.
UN declares access to safe water and sanitation a human right.
IFRC has a significant impact at the Third World Water Forum in Kyoto, Japan, with participation in the ministerial portion of the conference, to strengthen and advocate its position.
IFRC Board and membership adopt global water and sanitation policy.
IFRC and Oxfam establish a Memorandum of Understanding to formalize closer operational cooperation. IFRC joins the World Health Organization-led ‘International Network to Promote Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage’.
IFRC launches its ten-year Global Water and Sanitation Initiative (GWSI) to increase provision of sustainable water and sanitation in contribution to the MDGs. IFRC establishes a special focus on water and sanitation and people living with HIV/AIDs under the GWSI umbrella.
IFRC continues its engagement at the 4th World Water Forum in Mexico City, signs a three-year global water and sanitation partnership with Nestlé and increases emphasis on hygiene promotion in emergencies and development work.
GWSI is on target, having identified 15 large-scale projects in Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific and enters partnership with the European Community and 25 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
The IFRC develops Water and Sanitation Disaster Response Kits - standardized equipment packages which complement ERU capacity. The IFRC also develops the Hygiene Promotion Box, since adopted by the Global Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Cluster as the standardized equipment for hygiene promotion in emergencies.