Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)

Access to safe water and sanitation is a human right. But right now, 780 million people around the world do not have access to safe water and 2.5 billion people cannot access the sanitation services they need. Discover how the IFRC is at the forefront of responding to global water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) needs.

The IFRC works to ensure that people around the world have equitable, sustainable and affordable access to water and sanitation services. We do so by supporting our 192 National Societies to deliver effective emergency, recovery and long-term WASH programmes.

Improving global WASH access and awareness is an integral part of our overall work in health and care building healthier and more resilient communities. Collectively we reach over 100 million people with quality water, sanitation and hygiene activities every year.

Our work in WASH involves both a ‘hardware’ and ‘software’ approach:

  • On the hardware side, we build WASH infrastructure such as toilets and community water pumps. We also repair or build sewage systems, water storage and water treatment facilities.
  • On the software side, we run hygiene promotion and behaviour change activities to improve people’s knowledge of good sanitation and hygiene practices (such as proper handwashing). We also support communities to effectively manage and maintain their water, sanitation and hygiene facilities.

More and more we are integrating WASH activities into other areas of our long-term and emergency work—from nutrition to protection, gender and inclusion. And we constantly research and innovate new WASH technologies and tools to better serve our communities.

Our areas of focus

Children in Mozambique test the first drops of water from a new water point installed by the Spanish Red Cross following Cyclone Idai in

Emergency WASH

Providing immediate and reliable WASH services to people affected by crises

The IFRC and Panamanian Red Cross, supported by Unicef and the European Union, have built solar-powered treatment plants in Darien province to provide clean water to people on the move

Development WASH

Sustainable projects to improve long-term WASH services for all

A Pakistan Red Crescent volunteer leads a hygiene lesson with women waiting to see a doctor at a health clinic in the north of the country

Public health WASH

Initiatives supporting good hygiene promotion, disease prevention and encouraging healthy behaviours

Indonesian Red Cross volunteers pay regular visits to communities living in slums in Lampung city to remind them of the importance of clean water and good hygiene. The volunteers previously installed water and sanitation pumps to improve access to clean water.

Urban WASH

Addressing specific WASH challenges in urban and slum settings

Key WASH documents

27/11/2020

pdf (2.09 MB)

IFRC Health and Care Framework 2030

27/11/2020 | pdf (2.09 MB)

Read more

02/01/2012

pdf (676.96 KB)

Getting the balance right: A Red Cross Red Crescent call to addre...

02/01/2012 | pdf (676.96 KB)

Read more

02/06/2021

pdf (640.82 KB)

Global Task Force on Cholera Control: Country Support Platform

02/06/2021 | pdf (640.82 KB)

Read more

Watch: WASH in action

Get in touch

For more information about the IFRC's work in WASH, contact wash.geneva@ifrc.org