This publication summarizes the current evidence on the benefits of WASH for improving nutrition outcomes and describes how WASH interventions can be integrated into nutrition programmes. It provides practical suggestions targeted at nutrition programme managers and implementers on both "what" WASH interventions should be included in nutrition programmes and "how" to include them. It also seeks to help the WASH community to understand their role, both as providers of technical expertise in WASH interventions and in prioritizing longer-term improvements to WASH infrastructure in areas where undernutrition is a concern.
- Undernutrition and lack of safe water and sanitation are major global challenges. In 2014, 159 million children under five were stunted, and 50 million were wasted. In 2015, 2.4 billion individuals lack access to improved sanitation and 663 million lack access to a protected water source.
- Ending preventable child and maternal deaths, eliminating neglected tropical diseases, and meeting the global non-communicable disease targets require better better nutrition and WASH.
- Proven nutrition and WASH interventions exist and have been successfully implemented. Nutrition interventions include early initiation of breastfeeding, vitamin A supplementation, management of moderate and severe acute malnutrition, and nutritional care for child and women in difficult circumstances. WASH interventions include use of improved household toilets or latrines, improved water supply, safe household water management, including treatment and storage, and handwashing with soap.
- Successful integration requires thinking differently, considering trade-offs, and learning from the field. Examples include how to negotiate improved practices through small doable actions and using community health workers as examples of change.
- WASH and nutritional commitments and platforms provide a foundation for scaling up initial success.