Water Currents: World Water Day 2019

Children in Ethiopia’s Malle Woreda in South Omo enjoy water access for the first time from a simple hand scheme funded by the USAID Lowland WASH Activity. Photo credit: AECOM

March 22, 2019 is World Water Day (WWD). This year’s theme—Leaving No One Behind—emphasizes the transformative power of clean water to drastically improve quality of life for the world’s underserved and marginalized populations.

The U.S. Government seeks to create a water-secure world, where people and nations have the water they need to be healthy, prosperous, and resilient. To support this vision, USAID, through its Water and Development Plan appended to the U.S. Government Global Water Strategy, helps partner countries on their own development journey to self-reliance. Access to a safe drinking water supply is a key step on that journey. Our assistance helps partner countries—through their own systems—plan, finance, and deliver safe water and sanitation services for the neediest while sustainably managing water resources.

This issue of Water Currents contains information on WWD 2019 as well as recent studies and resources on issues related to the WWD theme such as human rights and marginalized populations.


World Water Day 2019
World Water Day 2019: Water for All, Leaving No One Behind. The official World Water Day website provides background about this year’s theme; information about previous WWD themes; and a collection of posters/social media materials, stories, events, and other resources.

Human Rights
Human Rights-Based Approach to WASH and HealthWaterAid, 2018. A human rights-based approach to development is rooted in the central idea of empowerment. This brief explains how the approach seeks to change the relationship between development actors and poor or vulnerable people.

Why a Human Rights Based Approach to Water and Sanitation Is Essential for the PoorWater Blog, September 2018. The recognition of water and sanitation as a human right has dramatically changed how the water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) sector designs, plans, implements, and monitors policies and programs aimed at increasing access to these basic services.

Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights to Safe Drinking Water and SanitationUnited Nations Human Rights. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights created this site to feature news updates, annual reports, UN resolutions, and other publications from the Special Rapporteur.

Having a Toilet Is Not Enough: The Limitations in Fulfilling the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation in a Municipal School in Bahia, BrazilBMC Public Health, January 2019. A study of access to toilets in a public school in Brazil found insufficient quantity and quality of toilets. It also revealed the need to go beyond infrastructure and address the lack of maintenance, cultural elements, and student participation.

Marginalized Populations—Refugees/Water Conflict
Water @ Wilson: 50 Years of Water, Conflict, and CooperationWilson Center, November 2018. The Woodrow Wilson Center held this event celebrating 50 years of working on water’s connection to conflict and cooperation. The event featured a panel of experts from USAID, NGOs, and academia for a comprehensive look at the first year of theU.S. Government Global Water Strategy and new research and practice on water, peace, and conflict.

The Healthy Baby Flipbook: Piloting Home-Based Counseling for Refugee Mothers to Improve Infant Feeding and Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) PracticesGlobal Health Action, January 2019. Researchers in this study piloted education materials for home-based counseling of refugee mothers along the Thailand–Myanmar border to improve appropriate infant-feeding WASH behaviors.

Human Rights Day: WASH During EmergenciesCLTS Foundation Blog, December 2018. The main objective of any WASH intervention during emergencies is to reduce the transmission of fecal-oral diseases and exposure to disease-bearing vectors. Approaches to WASH in emergencies may vary according to need, culture, context, and the nature of the disaster or conflict.

Updates to the Water Conflict ChronologyPacific Institute, January 2019. The Water Conflict Chronology is the world’s most comprehensive open-source database on water-related violence. This update adds over 100 new entries identified from news reports, eyewitness accounts, and other conflict databases.

A Multi-Criteria Assessment of Water Supply in Ugandan Refugee SettlementsWater, October 2018. This study investigated end-user water demand, freshwater availability, and the risks surrounding several groundwater supply alternatives in Ugandan refugee settlements.

Assessing Conflict in Water Development: A Guide for Water and Peacebuilding PractitionersCatholic Relief Services, March 2018. The purpose of this document is to provide a lens through which water development practitioners can identify and assess existing or future conflict associated with their projects and plan for mitigation activities early in the design process.

Water Stress and Human Migration: A Global, Georeferenced Review of Empirical Research. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2018. This report assesses and maps 184 peer-reviewed, empirical research articles selected for their focus on linkages between water stress and human migration.

Speaking of Water: Water Conflict ChronologyCircle of Blue, June 2018. In this podcast, “Speaking of Water” host Eileen Wray-McCann speaks with the Pacific Institute’s co-founder and President Emeritus Dr. Peter Gleick. They discuss the connections among resource issues, environmental issues, and the broad area of international security and conflict.

Marginalized Populations—People with Disabilities
Equality, Non-Discrimination and Inclusion ToolkitWaterAid, 2018. This resource gives practical guidance on reducing inequalities in advocacy programs, provides a framework for making WASH initiatives more inclusive, and includes tools to put the theory into practice.

Exploring the Links Between Water, Sanitation and Hygiene and Disability; Results from a Case-Control Study in GuatemalaPLoS One, June 2018. People with disabilities in Guatemala experience greater difficulties in accessing sanitation facilities and practicing hygienic behaviors than their peers without disabilities. Addressing this disparity will require more data collection and research.

Access to Water and Sanitation Among People with Disabilities: Results from Cross-Sectional Surveys in Bangladesh, Cameroon, India and MalawiBMJ Open, June 2018. An analysis of five cross-sectional, single or multidistrict, population-based surveys provides some of the first comparable quantitative data on the relationship between disability and WASH at the individual and household level.

Evaluating Equity and Inclusion in Access to Water and Sanitation for Persons Living with HIV/AIDS in Wukro, EthiopiaWater, September 2018. This study presents recommendations on how to specifically target the needs of persons living with HIV/AIDS to achieve equitable and inclusive access to water and sanitation for all.

Marginalized Populations—Urban Poor
Seeking New Ways to Expand Sanitation for the Urban Poor in West AfricaGlobal Waters on Medium, May 2018. The USAID West Africa Sanitation Service Delivery Project is working to create a more effective, efficient, and inclusive sanitation market for the urban poor in Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, and Ghana.

Water and Sanitation in Dhaka Slums: Access, Quality, and Informality in Service ProvisionThe World Bank, 2018. An analysis finds that access to water and sanitation services in Dhaka slums is overall quite high, but these services are subject to important quality issues related to safety, reliability, and liability.

A Journey of Institutional Change: Extending Water Services to Nairobi’s Informal SettlementsWater and Sanitation for the Urban Poor, October 2018. This brief sets out the process of institutional change that the Nairobi City Water & Sewerage Company undertook to extend services to the informal settlements of Nairobi.

Increasing the Regular Use of Safe Water Kiosk Through Collective Psychological Ownership: A Mediation AnalysisJournal of Environmental Psychology, June 2018. In urban slums and dispersed rural communities, where access to safe water is especially limited, water kiosks are a relevant safe water source. However, irregular use by customers challenges their operational viability.

Barriers to Access to Improved Water and Sanitation in Poor Peri-Urban Settlements of Abidjan, Côte d’IvoirePLoS One, August 2018. A cross-sectional study in six poor peri-urban settlements found that the presence of the household head’s wife at home was associated with greater access to clean water, thus highlighting the important role of women in ensuring access to clean water in these specific environments.


Water Currents
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USAID Bureau for Economic Growth, Education and Environment (E3) Water Office