Water and Sanitation ERUs and Kits

In 1994, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) set up Emergency Response Units (ERUs) (link required to ERU page under disaster response section) as part of its disaster response system.

An ERU is a team of trained technical specialists who use pre-packed sets of standardized equipment, which is ready to be deployed at short notice. The team provides specific support or direct service when local facilities are either destroyed, overwhelmed by needs, or simply don’t exist.

Water and sanitation ERU

The water and sanitation ERU is one of seven types of ERU, each of which performs a different specialist activity.

Since 1996, the IFRC has deployed 57 water and sanitation ERUs around the world. The water and sanitation ERU is made up of three modules, which can be deployed separately or jointly, and includes:

Water and sanitation module 15 provides water, complying to Sphere standards (www.sphereproject.org), for up to 15,000 people in 3-5 densely-populated locations (as opposed to dispersed rural communities). The module includes materials for delivering water via a pipeline and local trucking capacity. The ERU also includes basic sanitation equipment for 5,000 people.

Water and sanitation module 40 provides water, complying to Sphere standards (http://www.sphereproject.org/), for up to 40,000 people in up to 2 densely-populated locations (as opposed to dispersed rural communities). The module includes materials for delivering water via a pipeline and local trucking capacity. The ERU also includes basic sanitation equipment for 5,000 people.

Mass sanitation module 20 provides hygiene promotion and sanitation materials for up to 20,000 people. The service area can be larger than the coverage area in the water modules, but is limited by the number of people deployed with the module.

These modules replace the old Specialized Water, Mass Water and Distribution and Trucking units.

Water and sanitation disaster response kits

The IFRC has pre-positioned water and sanitation disaster response kits in many global locations. There are three different kits available, according to location, number of beneficiaries, types of intervention, water volume and services required.

The kits conform to Sphere and World Health Organization standards, which stipulate that each person should have access to 15 litres of safe water per day and access to safe waste disposal as well as hygiene items.

The kits contain equipment only and can be deployed separately or together, based on need. They all require a local surface or ground water supply.

Kit 2 provides water treatment at household level for up to 2,000 beneficiaries (400 families). It has:

  • no central treatment or storage capacity
  • very basic sanitation facilities for a small population
  • capacity to respond to the needs of a limited number of beneficiaries in scattered populations at a household level

Kit 5 is designed for the treatment and distribution of water for small populations up to 5,000 people. It has the capacity to:

  • treat up to 75,000 litres of water a day
  • provide limited first response sanitation
  • transport up to 15,000 litres of treated water a day to several distribution points with limited possibility to set up different storage and distribution points (preconditions are the availability of flatbed trucks, fuel and road access).

Kit 10 is designed for the treatment and distribution of water for medium populations up to 10,000 people.

It has the capacity to:

  • treat and distribute water for medium size populations up to 10,000 people
  • treat up to 150,000 litres of water a day
  • provide limited first response sanitation
  • transport up to 30,000 litres of treated water a day to several distribution points with limited possibility to set up different storage and distribution points (preconditions are the availability of flatbed trucks, fuel and road access).

Hygiene promotion and training in the use of materials and tools in the kit is an essential part of the operation. Local water and sanitation technicians and Red Cross Red Crescent volunteers are needed to ensure that beneficiaries are familiar with household level water treatment methods.

The National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies that currently have ERUs available for rapid deployment include those of Austria, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.