Oxfam-developed WASH policy draft approved by the Philippine Department of Health
Esni Haya, pictured here holding her four-month-old baby, has been living in the Sarimanok Evacuation Center for more than two years since the Marawi Siege. She shared with us her experiences of displacement; the challenges evacuees face in accessing WASH and other basic facilities; and her dreams of homecoming. Oxfam led the initial case study research in the three major island groups of the Philippines to co-create a shared understanding of context-specific issues that must be included in policy development. (Photo: April Bulanadi/Oxfam)
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Health (DOH) issued Administrative Order 2020-0032, entitled "National Policy on Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) in Emergencies and Disasters", in July 2020.
Once fully implemented, local health offices and local government units will be better capacitated to deliver WASH services during disasters and emergencies. This is achieved by providing them with a uniform understanding of WASH minimum standards and ensuring that rights-based approaches are followed when providing critical interventions to affected communities.
The institutionalization and implementation of the WASH Cluster approach, which is characterized by working together in partnership to ensure predictive leadership and accountability to affected populations and people in need, must be guided by the following principles:
Affected populations are at the center of response actions. These actions must then be appropriate, inclusive, and gender-sensitive to address the needs of affected populations, including women and children, Indigenous peoples, the elderly, the internally-displaced, persons with disabilities, and other marginalized groups.
Do no harm
All WASH Cluster members and stakeholders are obligated to prevent and mitigate any negative impact of their actions on affected populations, communities, and humanitarian staff. This includes protecting affected populations from violent attacks or discrimination, managing data and information in a sensitive manner, ensuring that state-led protection measures do not diminish local capacities, and continuously adapting responses to the local context.
Community empowerment and resilience
Community engagement and participation are necessary at all stages of decision-making to ensure that the needs of affected communities are met, interventions are accepted and owned by them, full participation in governance processes and decisions that affect their lives are encouraged, and community resilience is strengthened.
The WASH Cluster and all stakeholders shall ensure accountability in humanitarian action, which involves the responsible use of power, taking account of, and being held accountable by, different stakeholders, primarily those who are affected by the exercise of such power such as affected populations and the marginalized.
All WASH interventions must be based on the best available scientific information, integrated with Indigenous and local knowledge, and acceptable to the local and global humanitarian community.
For inquiries and coordination:
April Ann Bulanadi | Policy Advocacy and Communications Manager | Oxfam Pilipinas