WASH: Water, Sanitation, Hygiene. Improving community access to clean drinking water and sanitation.

Improving community access to clean drinking water and sanitation


Billions of people, most of whom live in developing countries, lack access to clean, safe drinking water, and sanitation facilities. UNICEF estimates nearly 36 percent of the world’s population do not have access to a clean latrine to dispose of waste.

The consequences are dire. The two leading causes of death globally for children under five years of age, diarrheal disease and acute respiratory infections, are linked to poor water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) practices. Contaminated water and poor household hygiene behaviors sickens millions of children and adults, contributing to premature mortality and frequent episodes of debilitating illness. There are economic impacts as well. Children, girls especially, may miss school because they lack private sanitation facilities or must fetch water for their families. Adults miss cultivating food for their families because they are sick.

IMA recognizes the critical importance of improved WASH: Water, Sanitation and Hygiene practices within its health systems strengthening programs. As such, it works with Ministries of Health throughout Africa to ensure that primary health care packages include evidence-driven WASH interventions, such as provision of water treatment, use of soap and hand washing, and increased access to properly constructed latrines. IMA integrates WASH within its service delivery training programs for a variety of health areas, supporting health care providers to follow proper preparation and hand washing for labor and delivery, for example.

At the community level, IMA works with Community Health Workers (CHW) and other leaders to include accurate WASH messages, such as promoting proper hand washing practices, in many of its programs. Within its NTD programs, IMA ensures health care workers and CHWs help people understand the link between WASH practices and transmission of soil-transmitted helminthes (worms) and how they can protect themselves.

Through an OFDA-funded project, for example, IMA sent a cholera surveillance and prevention team to Upper Nile and Jonglei states to train government and camp supervisors on cholera prevention, reporting, and case management. This work helped identify a nascent case through a mobile clinic, preventing a further outbreak.

Our Project


Access to Primary Health Care Project (ASSP)
IMA is supporting the Ministry of Health to integrate improved WASH practices within this 5 province, 56-health zone project. IMA is also rehabilitating more than 200 health facilities and building 200 more, each of which will include hand washing stations, safe latrines and other WASH-friendly components. Following MoH guidelines to establish healthy villages, IMA is helping communities improve their water infrastructure through several activities. In the final quarter of 2014, the project helped communities tap 64 new natural springs, providing clean drinking water to 11,241 households. The project also built 38 large water storage cisterns that can hold 12,000 liters of collected rainwater, offering nearly 86,000 people access to durable or seasonal water.


Healthy Schools, Successful Children
IMA is working to improve students’ health, school participation and academic success through water, sanitation and hygiene interventions in the South, Southeast and Grand Anse departments of Haiti. The Caribbean country continues to grapple with insufficient access to potable water and proper sanitation. Only 64 percent of the population has access to improved sources of drinking water, and only 26 percent of the population has access to improved sanitation facilities. The situation in schools is even more alarming, with 74.5 percent of schools lacking water installation and 84 percent lacking treated drinking water. Fewer than 60 percent of schools have functional toilets or latrines. The project is designed to improve WASH infrastructure in 60 schools; improve WASH behavior among students, teachers and communities; and institute frameworks for sustaining interventions among schools and other local stakeholders. The project is guided by a program strategy that involves alignment with the Ministry of Education’s new école amie de l’hygiène (hygiene-friendly school) model to deliver customized, sustainable WASH interventions at targeted schools.