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< prev - next > Disaster response mitigation and rebuilding Emergency relief KnO 100648_Water Supply during emergencies (Printable PDF)
Water Access in Emergencies
Practical Action
One of the immediate concerns in an emergency response is to ensure the displaced population
has access to a safe and sufficient water supply. Humanitarian agencies will often co-ordinate
process, bringing in external solutions for a rapid response. This is usually necessary at first, and
people-centred solutions are not implemented until stability has been reached.
However, in some cases it may be that the required infrastructure is not available, or not
sufficient to meet water needs. In this respect, the ability of displaced people to implement their
own water sourcing techniques can either replace or enhance emergency responses. In a PCR
process it is essential to empower people from an early stage, and if it doesn’t detract from
essential relief efforts, then the use of appropriate technologies is encouraged.
This brief has looked at some of the typical stages involved in supplying water in an emergency
relief effort, and some of the common techniques employed by humanitarian agencies to achieve
them. It has also covered examples of people-centred solutions that could also be implemented to
increase community involvement and skill/knowledge sharing amongst the displaced population.
References and Further Reading
Practical Action documents:
Clay Water Filters
Human Powered Handpumps
Rainwater Harvesting during Reconstruction
Solar Water Disinfection
Treadle Pumps
Water Treatment during Reconstruction
Well Digging in Kassala: The Hand-Powered Percussion Drill
Oxfam Field Manuals
Water Distribution Manual: URL
Water Filtration Manual: URL
Water Pumping Manual: URL
Water Quality Analysis in Emergency Situations: URL
Burt, M. & Keiru, B. (2009), “Innovative rainwater harvesting techniques for emergencies:
Lessons from the field”: WEDC Reviewed Paper 196. URL
Davis. J & Lambert, R. (2002), “Engineering in Emergencies: A Practical Guide for Relief
Workers”: Practical Action Publishing, ISBN 9781853395215. URL
House, S. & Reed, B. (2004) “Emergency Water Sources: Guidelines for selection and
treatment”: WEDC, Loughborough University, UK. URL
Kagaya, S. & Reed, B. (2011), “Emergency treatment of drinking water at the point of use”:
Technical notes on drinking-water, sanitation & hygiene in emergencies No.5: WHO & WEDC.
Odhiambo, F. & Reed, B. (2011), “Hygiene promotion in emergencies”: Technical notes on
drinking-water, sanitation & hygiene in emergencies No.10: WHO & WEDC. URL
Reed, B. & Reed, B. (2011), “How much water is needed in emergencies”: Technical notes on
drinking water, sanitation & hygiene in emergencies No.9: WHO & WEDC. URL
Reed, B. (2011), “Delivering safe water by tanker”: Technical notes on drinking water, sanitation
& hygiene in emergencies No.12: WHO & WEDC. URL
The Sphere Project (2004), Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster
Response: The Sphere Project, Geneva, Switzerland.
UNHCR (2008), “A Guidance for UNHCR Field Operations on Water and Sanitation Services”:
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees. URL