Stockholm World Water Week 2014


Seminar Summary

Seminar: Streamlining Strategies for Humanitarian Aid in the WASH Sector

The German WASH Network and the German Federal Foreign Office together with UNICEF, the Sanitation and Water for All Partnership (SWA), the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA) and the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs Switzerland (FDFA) jointly convened a seminar titled “Streamlining Strategies for Humanitarian Aid in the WASH Sector” at World Water Week 2014. During the seminar current challenges in humanitarian WASH response were presented from different perspectives and analysed with regard to their policy implications. Together with the seminar participants the strengths and weaknesses of existing humanitarian aid strategies and coordination mechanisms were boiled down to specific recommendations feeding into on-going national strategy development processes (e.g. Germany). The seminar started with opening remarks and a brief introduction into the seminar format given by Thilo Panzerbieter (German WASH Network). It was followed by a presentation from Björn Hofmann (German Federal Foreign Office) on the current efforts of the German Federal Foreign Office to develop a strategy for WASH in close collaboration with its implementing NGO partners from the German WASH Network as well as international partners. Among the focus areas of this new WASH strategy will be (1) improving the links between German WASH experience and international WASH actors, (2) enhancing capacity among German and local organisations to ensure high standards of WASH interventions and (3) increasing the sustainability of WASH interventions. Mr. Hofmann reassured that the discussions and conclusions from the seminar will be carefully examined and weaved into the process of finalising the strategy during the coming months. During the following hour a wide range of humanitarian WASH actors was asked to reflect briefly on current challenges and opportunities in humanitarian WASH response and respective policy implications. These very concise “3-bullets-each” inputs from different perspectives were intended to set the scene and trigger the subsequent table discussions and were clustered into the following four thematic areas:

  1. WASH Cluster Coordination from Different Perspectives
  2. Government-Led National WASH Sector Coordination
  3. New Trends Donor Strategies Need to Take into Account
  4. Looking Beyond Relief

Please find the “3-bullets-each” inputs under the section: Speaker Inputs

The second half of the seminar was used for a more in-depth discussion with the seminar participants at three different tables to reflect on the main issues recommended to be fed into on-going humanitarian WASH strategy development processes. After a lively and productive debate at the tables the main results were reported back by the respective table leads.

Please find the reporting from the different tables as short films as well as the main points mentioned under the section: Table Discussions

Speaker Inputs

Speaker Inputs

A wide range of humanitarian WASH actors was asked to reflect briefly on current challenges and opportunities in humanitarian WASH response and respective policy implications. These very concise “3-bullets-each” inputs from different perspectives were intended to set the scene and trigger the subsequent table discussions:

1. WASH Cluster Coordination from Different Perspectives

Georg Nothelle (GWC, CARE Germany): Status and Challenges of the WASH Cluster Coordination Mechanism

  • Capacities – Don ́t loose the wind
  • Commitment – Walk the talk
  • Continuity – Break the silos

Ajay Paul (Welthungerhilfe, Zimbabwe): Current Challenges from the Perspective of an INGO in a WASH Cluster Lead Position – Zimbabwe

  • Clear and mutually agreed roles and responsibilities at national level
  • Global Cluster Lead still provider of last resort
  • Shared leadership a positive experience and responsive to need/context

2. Government-Led National WASH Sector Coordination

Simone Klawitter (UNICEF): How Can Government-Led National WASH Sector Platforms be strengthened?

  • Use and strengthen existing coordination systems and processes – allow for learning and country specific systems
  • Focus on capacity development and time-bound provision of humanitarian technical expertise from within national capacity instead of taking over
  • Provide long time organizational development support for national leadership for coordination

Peter Mahal Dhieu Akat (Ministry of Electricity, Dams, Irrigation and Water Resources South Sudan): Government in the Driving Seat of WASH Coordination: Insights and Challenges – South Sudan

  • Government supports parallel implementation of emergency and development programmes and ensures that aid is structured to promote smooth integration
  • Incorporating emergency plans in development programmes, e.g. UNICEF AWP also allocates budgets for emergencies to MEDIWR
  • Need for paradigm shift in NGOs to also prioritise development agenda
  • Support of robust development programmes that will have a direct impact in the reduction of future emergencies and ensure better emergency coordination

3. New Trends Donor Strategies Need to Take into Account

Marc-Andre Bünzli (FDFA, Switzerland): Trends and Guiding Principles in Humanitarian WASH Donor Strategies of Switzerland

  • We stick to humanitarian principles – based on needs
  •  «Don’t run, it’s an emergency» – important to keep a holistic approach, including environmental, technical, social, economical, political and cultural factors
  • Water AND Sanitation – bettering sanitation saves more lives than improving water quality alone

Daniel Clauss (ECHO): ECHO’s Strategic Contribution to Improving Humanitarian WASH

  • As one of the largest donors for humanitarian WASH, ECHO is eager to coordinate with other EU and non-EU donors
  • Harmonization of donor policies for coherence, quality and to simplify work/funding request of partners
  • Possible division of labor (Sub-sector, regions, type of crisis)?
  • Alignment with GWC; common donor position

4. Looking Beyond Relief

Simone Klawitter (UNICEF): Moving from Humanitarian Cluster Coordination to Development after Typhoon Haiyan Philippines

  • Start to think early! Move from humanitarian to sector coordination/SwAP, use cluster mechanism to inform/consult on strategy development
  • Be inclusive! Bridge regional and national coordination mechanism for both humanitarian as well as development sector, as actors/strategies differ
  •  Invest in capacity development! …at different levels using country mechanism

Jan Spit (Waste/SuSanA): How Can Donor Policies Support Innovation for Humanitarian Sanitation Solutions?

  • Humanitarian gap analysis (HIF) showed 6 out of 12 gaps are directly related to sanitation
  • Good examples (like OFDA, ECHO, BUZA, SPEEDKITS) need to be demonstrated and used in the field
  • Be ready for future challenges like urbanisation and climate change and (1) facilitate upscaling and demonstration of proven concepts and (2) finance more innovative concepts and research

Table Discussions

Table Discussions

Table 1: WASH Cluster Coordination – Supporting National Coordination Capacity

  • Concentration on national and sub-national capacity building
  • Breaking the silos – better linking of development and humanitarian actors
  • Need for strong national and sub-national government leadership
  • Existing challenge/limitation that due to political reasons in some cases local emergencies or crises are denied by the national government
  • More involvement of policy makers at national/local level
  • Donors should commit themselves to better coordination and recipients should be included

Summary from table 1: short film 1


Table 2: Streamlining Strategies – Focus Areas of WASH Relief Strategies

  • Funding for relief and development should complement each other
  • Existing linkages between the humanitarian and the development side should be used better
  • Urban sanitation one of the biggest challenges that humanitarian strategies need to reflect
  • Demand for more flexibility in following humanitarian principles and inclusion of affected communities
  • Harmonisation of donor policies desirable but still a big challenge
  • Suggestion that donors should include a statement of intent for better coordination and alignment of reporting requirements
  • Act fast but with local partners and ensure that systems are in place
  • Possible division of labour needs further discussion among donors
  • Alignment with the Global WASH Cluster
  • Special focus on hygiene as an essential WASH component which has often been neglected
  • Role and capacity of the private sector should be considered
  • Equity, inclusion and specific hygiene issues like menstrual hygiene management need to be adequately reflected in strategies
  • Long-term view important in humanitarian thinking

Summary from table 2: short film 2


Table 3: Looking Beyond Relief – Preparedness and Pathways to Sustainability

  • Concentration on natural hazards that can turn into disasters (as man-made disasters and armed conflicts can only be addressed to a limited extent with preparedness and resilience measures)
  • Sanitation needs special attention as adequate sanitation solutions are lacking behind
  • Need to invest in innovation and research for sustainable and scalable solutions
  • Facing of future challenges to get prepared and building resilience (urbanisation and climate change)
  • Need to start to think early (even before the disaster)
  • Basing development decision on proper risk analysis (risk informed programming)
  • Putting affected population at the center of all efforts
  • Inclusion of all dimensions of sustainability (technical, social, environmental, institutional)
  • More focus on cross-learning between development and relief actors
  • Necessity to have flexible funding tools (more flexible shifting of funding from development to relief and vice versa)

Summary from table 3: short film 3


Final Panel

Final panel summary: short film 4



Screen Shot 2014-09-10 at 2.49.16 PM

Find the seminar in the official World Water Week Programme

Find the flyer of the seminar here


German WASH Network

German Federal Foreign Office


Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Switzerland 

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)

Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA)

Sanitation and Water for All (SWA)

Speakers and invited experts

Thilo Panzerbieter German Toilet Organization (GTO) I German WASH Network
Björn Hofmann German Federal Foreign Office
Georg Nothelle Global WASH Cluster I CARE Germany
Ajay Paul Deutsche Welthungerhilfe I Zimbabwe
Simone Klawitter UNICEF I Philippines
Peter Mahal Dhieu Akat Ministry of Electricity, Dams, Irrigation and Water Resources I South Sudan
Marc-Andre Bünzli Federal Department of Foreign Affairs I Switzerland
Daniel Clauss EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO)
Jan Spit Waste I Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA)
Arno Coerver Malteser International I German WASH Network
Stephan Simon Deutsche Welthungerhilfe I German WASH Network

In collaboration with


Financially supported by