Floods, droughts, hurricanes, earthquakes and even civil conflicts cause large-scale human dislocations, exposing thousands to life threatening conditions.

Plans for emergency provision and response must be in place to maintain human well-being and dignity in times of crisis. In a disaster situation, the provision of safe water and sanitation solutions, and especially hygiene promotion are vital to reduce the spread of epidemic diseases such as cholera.

Disasters seriously disrupt the lives of individuals, and the functioning of entire communities or even whole societies. Resulting widespread human, material, economic, and environmental losses stress existing infrastructure and leave individuals in states of shock and despair. Rebuilding damaged infrastructures, such as sewage systems and water supply, not only help to restore a sense of normalcy, but also arrest the spread of disease.

The first goal of emergency response is to prevent outbreaks of waterborne diseases, caused by malfunctioning water supply, various point pollution of water resources, and lack of sanitation facilities. Top priorities for immediate response are provision of sufficient quantities of safe water, arrangement of basic sanitation, and promotion of good hygiene behaviour.

Emergency preparedness is just as important. The incorporation of disaster scenarios in the planning of infrastructure and institutional, community, and societal response is a critical step towards risk management, which will reduce a population’s vulnerability during and after a disaster.

WSSCC has produced a thematic Reference Note on disaster risk reduction and emergency response for the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector, which aims to assist professionals in different fields to understand the key issues and identify key resources and institutions on the topic. In this document, WSSCC introduces important organizations and their strategies and presents guidelines, manuals, and standards for appropriate field action following a disaster.

Last updated: Tue, 11/16/2010 - 16:44