WASH and its Links to Nutrition: 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.

Under USAID’s Water and Development Plan, USAID seeks to increase access to sustainable water and sanitation services, promote key hygiene behaviors, and enhance the effective management of the water resources. USAID’s Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Strategy (2014-2025) describes the Agency’s efforts to increase provision and utilization of high-quality nutrition services, country capacity and commitment to nutrition, multi-sectoral coordination to improve nutritional outcomes, and evidence generation and innovation for nutrition. These water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) and nutrition outcomes are essential to saving lives, increasing economic productivity, building resilience, promoting equity, and improving mental and social well-being.

The objective of this document is to summarize the state of the evidence and provide guidance about approaches to WASH that are likely to have greater impact on nutrition outcomes. This technical brief builds on this information and will provide an overview of the links between WASH and nutrition and discuss USAID recommendations for WASH programming.


  • There is strong evidence linking safe WASH to health and nutrition, though nutrition is only one of many development outcomes from investment in WASH services.
  • USAID has identified four recommendations for WASH programming that are likely to have greater impacts on health and nutrition:
    • Implement area-wide sanitation interventions that lead to coverage at scale
    • Professionalize water service delivery working towards safely managed water services
    • Reduce barriers to social and behavior change through aspirational products and services
    • Explore ways to interrupt fecal-oral pathways from poor food hygiene, contact with animal feces, and direct soil/feces ingestion
Technical Brief
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11 pages