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Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response

Water supply standard 3: Water facilities

People have adequate facilities to collect, store and use sufficient quantities of water for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene, and to ensure that drinking water remains safe until it is consumed.

Key actions (to be read in conjunction with the guidance notes)


Key indicators (to be read in conjunction with the guidance notes)


Guidance notes

  1. Water collection and storage: People need vessels to collect water, to store it and to use it for drinking, cooking, washing and bathing. The vessels should be clean, hygienic, easy to carry and appropriate to local needs and habits in terms of size, shape and design. Children, persons with disabilities, older people and people living with HIV and AIDS may need smaller or specially designed water-carrying containers. The amount of storage capacity required depends on the size of the household and the consistency of water availability, e.g. approximately four litres per person would be appropriate for situations where there is a constant daily supply. Promotion and monitoring of safe collection, storage and drawing is an opportunity to discuss water contamination issues with vulnerable people, especially women and children.
  2. Communal washing and bathing facilities: People require spaces where they can bathe in privacy and with dignity. If this is not possible at the household level, separate central facilities for men and women will be needed. Where soap is not available, commonly used alternatives, such as ash, clean sand, soda or various plants suitable for washing and/or scrubbing, can be provided. Washing clothes, particularly children’s clothes, is an essential hygiene activity; cooking and eating utensils also need washing. The number, location, design, safety, appropriateness and convenience of facilities should be decided in consultation with the users, particularly women, adolescent girls and persons with disabilities. The location of facilities in central, accessible and well-lit areas with good visibility of the surrounding area can contribute to ensuring the safety of users.
  3. Maintenance of water systems: it is important that the affected population is made aware of and provided with all necessary means to maintain and sustain the systems provided.