CARE / Josh Estey

Water, sanitation, and hygiene in crisis

CARE International provides integrated Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) packages to dozens of countries. They are fundamental to maintaining the safety and dignity of vulnerable communities.

How water, sanitation, and hygiene are affected in crisis 

During and after emergencies, people are at significant risk of contracting infectious disease caused by inadequate sanitation, poor hygiene practice and lack of access to safe water. Even when there is no emergency, lack of access to safe water and sanitation is the world’s single largest cause of illness. 

Provision of an integrated Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) package is fundamental to maintaining the safety and dignity of displaced people, particularly women and girls, through providing secure bathing spaces, hygiene supplies, private and dignified toilets, and safe access to water sources. 

WASH in emergencies normally includes a range of interventions:  

  • Providing safe water through water trucking 

  • On-site water treatment and distribution  

  • Household water treatment and storage 

  • Construction of latrines and bathing spaces 

  • Hygiene promotion through trained volunteers 

  • Distribution of essential hygiene supplies. 

Provision of water and sanitation facilities, or hygiene kits, alone is not enough—if people lack knowledge or understanding of how to prevent water- and sanitation-related disease, then disease outbreak is likely to occur. Wherever possible, our emergency interventions aim to build longer-term sustainable solutions together with the community. 

Two young girls fill up large yellow jugs at a tap water station.

Years of relentless conflict have seriously damaged Yemen’s aging water and sanitation system infrastructure. With funding from USAID, CARE distributed hygiene kits and held training sessions on best hygiene practices.

What is CARE International doing to improve water, sanitation, and hygiene during crisis?  

CARE International has substantial Emergency WASH programs in Yemen, Syria, Sudan, Bangladesh, Mozambique, Iraq, and many other countries. We regularly reach 5-6 million people per year with emergency WASH activities. 

CARE International’s largest humanitarian response program in Yemen works alongside national partners to provide water, food, and cash support:  

  • The Emergency Assistance for Conflict-Affected and Vulnerable Communities project, supported by the US Government, enabled 31,000 people to access clean water, and close to 440,000 to adopt improved hygiene practices. A total of 90% more people at the end of the project had more than the minimum requirement of 15 liters of clean water a day, and people were three times more likely to treat their water before drinking it. 

  • The Dutch government supported Yemen Joint Response program enabled over 400,000 people to have access to clean water, and 30,000 people to have access to health services.