How, not why WASH

Another thoughtful post from Susan Davis

Improve International

By Susan Davis, Executive Director, Improve International

I was excited to attend the session on “Making Evidence Count in the WASH Sector” at Stockholm World Water Week. The description noted that the “WASH evidence base is complex and offers few simple answers to the question of ‘what works’,” but the discussion seemed focused more on “why WASH?”

I liked Oliver Cumming’s (LSHTM/SHARE) three questions for policymakers:

  • Is it a major public health problem?
  • What role does intervention play?
  • Is the intervention effective?

But for WASH, haven’t we answered the first two questions? The speakers presented some interesting evidence on how water, sanitation and hygiene are good for children’s health (in this particular case, by reducing stunting, a.k.a., increasing height).  At one point the question was posed “why invest in sanitation?” and I thought, “why do we need to ask this question?”

This reminded me of Richard Carter’s articulate and compelling…

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