Bangladesh Rohingya crisis – Innovative WASH options

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Helpdesk Query:
  • What innovative WASH options exist for situations of severe population overcrowding and limited space?
  • What lessons have been learned from their application?

A rapid review of the literature has found a selection of innovative WASH options available for situations of severe population overcrowding and limited spaces. Case study information was collated from African, Middle Eastern, South Asian and Caribbean countries. As requested, a number of experts were consulted for their opinion where there was a lack of project evaluations or grey literature.

Innovative WASH options are available for severe population overcrowding and limited spaces. However, understandings of ‘innovation’ vary. Therefore, for this rapid review, ‘innovative’ and innovations include new methods, inventions and/or modernisations used to improve WASH options.

The ‘Innovation in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene’ case study undertaken as part of the Humanitarian Innovation Ecosystem2 project shows that although the general picture is one of incremental change, priorities have shifted between the three subsectors, leading to differences in the pace of innovation in each area. This has involved a shift from focusing primarily on the Water subsector towards encouraging greater innovation in Sanitation. Hygiene promotion has been, and remains, a relatively small part of the overall WASH innovation effort (Rush and Marshall, 2015: 1).

According to IMC Worldwide, an innovation prize can be broadly defined as “a financial incentive that induces change through competition” bringing changes at political level, as well as incentivising local authorities to identify new service delivery methods (Ideas to Impact, 2015). These prizes aim to stimulate or induce innovation, rather than reward good performance (Ideas to Impact, 2015: 1). Innovation in this context can be understood in its broadest form – it does not have to be technical but can involve, for example, a change in behaviour or practice or the design of new business models that can successfully scale up technologies (Ideas to Impact, 2015: 1). Innovation in financing, such as prizes or challenges, is also stimulating and incentivising behavioural change in government agencies (Ideas to Impact, 2015).

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