Humanitarian-Development Coherence in WASH: USAID Water and Development Technical Series


This brief is part of USAID 's Water and Development Technical Series, which provides guidance on important topics for developing and implementing water and sanitation activities in support of the U.S. Government Global Water Strategy and USAID’s plan under the strategy.

The purpose of this technical brief is to provide an overview of actions to enhance the coherence between humanitarian, stabilization, and development approaches to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) or water resources management (WRM) programming in shock-affected contexts. The brief is intended for humanitarian, stabilization, and development actors both within and outside of USAID and proposes actionable steps and practical programming ideas to support the design and implementation of WASH or WRM programming in countries prone to natural disasters, affected by conflict, and/or political instability.


  • Develop a common understanding of the mandate, priorities, and geographic areas where WASH or WRM actors are working. Anyone motivated can jumpstart this first step; however, an influential broker is eventually needed to play an ongoing, facilitative role that would ideally include joint analysis and planning, as well as harmonized advocacy that takes advantage of each actors’ comparative advantages.
  • There is not a one-size-fits-all approach and opportunities may range from implementing complementary, yet separate programs in the same geographic area to achieve mutually agreed objectives, to implementing integrated programs that blend humanitarian, stabilization, and development approaches within a single activity.
  • Promote development approaches that can facilitate emergency response when needed. In shock-affected areas, development approaches are still possible, but development actors will need to build flexibility into activities and adaptive management will be essential.
  • Create an enabling environment for long-term development when addressing shocks. When feasible, humanitarian interventions should be complementary to and reinforce existing or nascent WASH services and WRM authorities and approaches.


Technical Brief
Publication Date
Produced By
13 pages