The Ecosystem Approach to Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)

Healthy ecosystems provide basic necessities and support livelihoods; however, overextraction of water resources or improper disposal of waste can alter the ecosystem and threaten community health. Wetlands International addresses water supply, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) issues from a landscape perspective. We make the links between human usage of natural services and their impact on the ecosystem. We answer pertinent questions such as where does our waste end up, and, how can we achieve reliable and consistent access to clean water? Through comprehensive understanding of the landscape and the wetlands which occupy them, WASH interventions can be delivered sustainably. 

The Traditional WASH Approach

The traditional WASH approach has been to install wells, boreholes, latrines and influence hygiene behaviour; however, these efforts are disconnected from the ecosystem and lead to poor water and waste management. Health, wellbeing and development of communities are jeopardised and outbreaks of water-related diseases, pollution of water sources and shrinking of natural resources remain common occurrences. 

Our Ambition

We are keen on developing partnerships with international NGOs influencing, facilitating and technically supporting local WASH provision. By 2015 our goal is to have a minimum of five such allies who are committed to ecosystem-inclusive WASH practice.

We aim to:  

  • Balance and integrate both environmental and development-based aspects of water management through adopting principles of the ecosystem approach in planning and implementation.
  • Advocate and design environmentally sustainable WASH interventions which are beneficial for people and the natural ecosystem by improving the availability of all water sources, including wetlands.

The Dutch Wash Alliance (DWA) Partnership

Wetlands International is a thematic partner of The Dutch Wash Alliance, providing guidance on the Environmental Sustainability aspect of the programme. Read and Watch more.

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