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In the last 10 years, the WASH sector has seen some encouraging progress. In 2014, 58% of diarrheal mortality was attributed to poor sanitation, compared to 88% in 1990.
The infant mortality rate for waterborne diseases has also dropped dramatically in the last 25 years2. The Millennium Development Goal (MDG) review from 2000 to 2015 shows ‘broadly satisfactory’ for the sector, with access to drinking water significantly increased3, although progress in sanitation is lower4. The MDGs gave way to the SDGs, including the recognition of a sector-specific goal (SDG 6) and ambitious targets for 2030. Progress has also been made in
terms of research and identifying the potential link between WASH and nutrition, which led to a better integration of these two sectors in our interventions. The importance of WASH governance and advocacy is now also well accepted by Action Against Hunger’s partners and its collaborators, as demonstrated by the Right to Drinking Water endorsement at the United Nations on July 29, 2010, to which Action Against Hunger strongly contributed. Action Against Hunger’s efforts to effectively address behavior change are beginning to bear fruit as well,
as evidenced by numerous projects including sanitation marketing activities and the many barrier analyses5 conducted. However, many efforts still need be done, especially in emergency settings.
The results are however less positive in some other areas. Despite Action Against Hunger efforts, the sustainability of WASH services in public institutions such as schools or health centers, as well as in many still fragile communities, remains uncertain. The growing peri-urban problem is also a major challenge for the sector. Some of the root causes may be linked to weak governance, poor infrastructure management, gender inequality, corruption and conflicts. Humanitarian organizations, UN agencies, and coordination platforms have been working on
well-established multisectoral integration frameworks, but implementation is still struggling at the operational level. The WASH sector suffers from a lack of funding and technical solutions adapted to emergencies (such as pit latrines being filled up too quickly, or wastewater drainage near water points). Knowledge management systems are having trouble to absorb the ever-growing flow of information both internally and externally, and to make it available when needed. The growing need for well-trained and longstanding human resources also remains a major challenge.
As of 2018, Action Against Hunger has 50 country and regional offices, and nearly 8,000 employees. The organization provides WASH assistance to over 6 million people annually through the construction or rehabilitation of water points, sanitation facilities and hygiene behavior improvement. The WASH sector represents 25% of Action Against Hunger’s operational projects; more than 120 projects each year6. The areas where the WASH sector has largely developed within Action Against Hunger, in addition to the operational approach mentioned above, are research, advocacy and strategic partnerships, illustrated by our strong
involvement in the cluster system associated with Humanitarian Reform.
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