The world is being plagued by a series of ongoing emergencies that range from the war in Ukraine, floods in Mozambique and Malawi, and the conflict in Northern Ethiopia to the earthquake in Turkey and Syria. Globally, extreme weather events like heat waves causing droughts and extreme rainfall causing floods pose an increasing threat as the climate changes. Broadly speaking, an emergency is a situation or state characterized by a clear and marked reduction in the abilities of people to sustain their normal living conditions, with resulting damage or risks to health, life, and livelihoods. The causes can be man-made (i.e., armed conflicts), natural disasters, a pandemic, or a combination thereof.
The WASH emergency sector aims at providing equitable and locally suitable assistance to those affected by emergencies. The sector is composed of multiple actors such as UN organizations, iNGOs, the International Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement, local governments, donor organizations, and other development cooperation actors. The cluster coordination mechanism led by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is used to improve the effectiveness of humanitarian response through greater predictability, accountability, responsibility, and partnership. However, in spite of the cluster coordination mechanism, local water and sanitation service providers are often not sufficiently involved in emergency prevention, preparedness, and response efforts. As a result, protracted crises often leave utilities in a much weaker position than at the onset of the emergency. UNICEF, ICRC, and the World Bank, among others, call for pre-crisis partnerships between humanitarian actors and water and sanitation service providers to improve preparedness and facilitate collaboration during times of emergencies. In situations like the war in Ukraine, there is a high willingness to engage in solidarity WOPs as a decentralised form of cooperation providing immediate, targeted support.
In this session, we will present three cases of partnerships that are strengthening the WASH sector in the different phases of an emergency. Then, a panel of experts will reflect on the enabling conditions for a solidarity partnership to function, the nexus between WASH service providers and humanitarian actors, and the relevance of partnerships in emergencies.