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Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council

The Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) is a United Nations membership organization that advocates for improved sanitation and hygiene for the most vulnerable and marginalized people around the world.[1] WSSCC facilitates multi-stakeholder collaboration around sanitation and contributes to the international community's broader goals of poverty eradication, health and environmental improvement, gender equality and long-term social and economic development.[2]

Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council
TypeIntergovernmental organisation
FocusSanitation, hygiene, water supply
Area served
Worldwide, with particular focus on Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia
Key people
Rolf Luyendijk, Executive Director
Amina J. Mohammed, former Chair and current Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations
Vision and Mission
The Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council's vision is of a world where everybody has sustained water supply, sanitation and hygiene.

WSSCC's main areas of focus are large-scale sanitation and hygiene behaviour change programmes through the Global Sanitation Fund -promoting sanitation and hygiene as the gateway to inclusion and opportunity; and bringing together leaders and activists to strengthen the global sanitation movement.

WSSCC's members and staff lobbied for a Sustainable Development Goal target for sanitation and hygiene. WSSCC contributes measurably to the achievement of SDG 6.2: By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations.



WSSCC works to address the sanitation crisis and promote universal access to sanitation in collaboration with a range of partners.[3] The United Nations estimates that 2.3 billion people live without access to safe sanitation.[4] According to the World Bank, poor sanitation costs countries approximately $260 billion annually.[5]

WSSCC addresses a range of sanitation and hygiene-related issues within its focus areas such as:

  • identifying financial and human resources gaps[6] and overhauling financing for development[7] in support of the Sustainable Development Goals;[8]
  • addressing issues (bottlenecks) that are slowing down implementation of sanitation systems;[9]
  • highlighting the connection between sanitation and human dignity, health, education, community empowerment[10][11] and business.[12][13]


WSSCC collaborates with government agencies, non-governmental organizations, international organizations, civil society groups and the private sector internationally and at the national, regional and local levels. Key collaborating partners include WaterAid, the Sanitation and Water For All, and UNICEF, among others. The organization also advocates around key sanitation and hygiene international days such as World Toilet Day[14] and Global Handwashing Day.[15]

Global Sanitation FundEdit

Through the Global Sanitation Fund (GSF), a multi-donor United Nations trust fund, WSSCC supports national efforts to help rural communities improve their sanitation and adopt good hygiene practices. The GSF funds behaviour change activities. Community-led total sanitation is frequently utilized by GSF-funded national programmes, such as in Cambodia[16] and Nigeria.[17]

The GSF currently funds national programmes in Benin, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Nepal, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, Togo and Uganda. WSSCC's Secretariat gathers funds and donations at the global level, selects the eligible countries for funding, and manages the disbursement of grants to national sanitation programmes.

Equality and non-discriminationEdit

WSSCC advocates for equality, human rights and non-discrimination as central to ensuring access to safe water supply, adequate sanitation and good hygiene for all. In particular, WSSCC WASH advocates promote women's participation and leadership[18] and menstrual hygiene management.[19][20][21]

Menstrual hygiene managementEdit

A key challenge that WSSCC is addressing relates to the inclusion of menstrual hygiene management in the sustainable development agenda. WSSCC has highlighted that the taboo surrounding menstruation is a barrier to equal participation and opportunities for women.[22] A National Public Radio article[23] highlighted that many policy makers often admit that they had never considered questions around menstruation before.

Other focus areasEdit

Operationally, sustaining behaviour change as well as ensuring reliable and consistent monitoring have been identified as challenges. Of particular note is the challenge related to monitoring households that return to previous unhygienic behaviours. WSSCC and its partners are addressing these issues through systems strengthening[24] and impact evaluations.[25]

Reports and campaignsEdit

Notable reports and campaigns supported by WSSCC include:

  • 'We Can't Wait', a report on sanitation and hygiene for women and girls produced in collaboration with WaterAid and Unilever[26]
  • The Global Water Supply and Sanitation Assessment report produced in collaboration with the WHO and UNICEF[27]
  • The United Nations 'End Open Defecation' campaign[28]
  • The Women for Water and Sanitation Declaration, sanctioned by the first ladies of Madagascar and Malawi, among others[29]

Organizational structureEdit

WSSCC is administratively and legally hosted by UNOPS. The WSSCC Secretariat is governed by the WSSCC Steering Committee, and has three main departments: (i) Networking and Knowledge Management; (ii) Advocacy and Communications; (iii) the GSF.[30]

The WSSCC Steering Committee decides the policies and strategies of the organization, manages the governance process, and is accountable to both the membership and the donors for its work. It is made up of a chair, regional members, partner agency members, ex officio members, non-voting invitees, and permanent non-voting observers. All WSSCC members are eligible to stand and vote in elections for the Steering Committee. The interim Chairs are Brad Herbert and Ebele Okeke, who have been in post since November 2016. Previous Chairs were: Anna Tibaijuka, 2011-2015; Roberto Lenton, 2005 – 2011; Sir Richard Jolly, 1997 – 2004; and Margaret Catley-Carlson, 1990 – 1996.

Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and former Minister of Environment of Nigeria, served as WSSCC's Chair[31] from April 2016 to November 2016.

The Secretariat’s Executive Director is Rolf Luyendijk, who will join WSSCC from UNICEF in March 2018. WSSCC’s secretariat is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.


The organization currently receives or has received funding from seven governments: Australia,[32] Finland,[33] the Netherlands,[34] Norway, Sweden,[35] Switzerland,[36] and the United Kingdom.[37]


In 1990, a group of senior staff of developing country governments, bilateral and multilateral agencies, NGOs and research institutions founded WSSCC. On December 21, 1990, the 45th Session of the UN General Assembly elected to pass resolution A/RES/45/181,[38] which emphasized the “importance of intensifying the coordination of national activities undertaken with the assistance of all relevant agencies in the field of water supply and sanitation through, in particular, the inter-agency Steering Committee for Co-operative Action for the International Drinking Water Decade and the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council”. Through this resolution the WSSCC was formally established as an independent organization with a United Nations mandate.

During the 1990s, WSSCC concentrated on sharing knowledge and convening thematic discussion groups on water- and sanitation-related topics. In 2000, WSSCC published Vision 21,[39] a proposal for achieving universal water, sanitation and hygiene coverage.

WSSCC is an unincorporated membership organization and not a separate legal entity. From 1991 to 2009, it was hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO). Since 2010, WSSCC has been hosted by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS).[40]

After 2000, WSSCC expanded its work to include advocacy and communications, and began to use the term "WASH" as an umbrella term for water, sanitation and hygiene from about 2001 onwards.[41]

WSSCC's members and staff lobbied for a Millennium Development Goal target for sanitation, which was adopted at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002 in Johannesburg, South Africa.[42]

Since 2007, WSSCC has focused on sanitation and hygiene, adding a dedicated sanitation grant financing mechanism (the Global Sanitation Fund) in addition to its networking, knowledge and advocacy work.


  1. ^ "About WSSCC". Global Citizen. Retrieved 2015-12-17.
  2. ^ "Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC)". Global Water Partnership. Retrieved 2015-12-17.
  3. ^ "World Water Day 2013: Ensuring universal access to water and sanitation". Institute of Development Studies. Retrieved 2015-12-17.
  4. ^ "Progress on Sanitation and Drinking Water 2015 Update and MDG Assessment" (PDF). WHO/UNICEF. Retrieved 2015-12-17.
  5. ^ "Economics of Sanitation Initiative". Water and Sanitation Program. Retrieved 2015-12-17.
  6. ^ ""UN reveals major gaps in water and sanitation – especially in rural areas". World Health Organization. Retrieved 8 January 2016".
  7. ^ ""Can We Finance Sustainable Development?". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 8 January 2016".
  8. ^ ""Analysis: Debating the best way to improve water and sanitation post-MDGs". IRIN. Retrieved 8 January 2016".
  9. ^ ""Water target least on-track among all development goals, UN says". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 January 2016".
  10. ^ "Soon, there will be a perfume strong enough to counter stinky loos in India and Africa". Quartz. Retrieved 2015-12-28.
  11. ^ Wamera, Elizabeth. "Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) is more than just toilets". the Guardian. Retrieved 2015-12-28.
  12. ^ Murray, Sarah (2015-09-15). "Sustainable Development: sanitation needs more private investment". Financial Times. ISSN 0307-1766. Retrieved 2015-12-28.
  13. ^ ""World Toilet Day" No Joke for Billions Without Sanitation | Inter Press Service". Retrieved 2015-12-28.
  14. ^ "Tapping into the Power of the Toilet". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2015-12-28.
  15. ^ "Not Just Another Day". The Guardian. 2015-10-15.
  16. ^ "Community-Led Total Sanitation in East Asia and Pacific" (PDF). UNICEF. Retrieved 2016-01-08.
  17. ^ "Women show the way in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)". Thomson Reuters Foundation. Retrieved 2016-01-08.
  18. ^ "Women Show the Way in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)". Thomson Reuters Foundation. Retrieved 2016-01-08.
  19. ^ "The invention that aims to make periods less of a pain". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-01-08.
  20. ^ "Disposable tampons aren't sustainable, but do women want to talk about it?". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-01-08.
  21. ^ "No Menstrual Hygiene For Indian Women Holds Economy Back". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2016-01-08.
  22. ^ "Opinion: Let's Talk Menstruation. Period". Inter Press Service. Retrieved 2016-01-08.
  23. ^ "Trying To Add The 'M' Word (Menstruation) To The U.N.'s New Goals". NPR. Retrieved 2015-12-30.
  24. ^ "Learning, progress and innovation: Sanitation and hygiene promotion in Madagascar" (PDF). WSSCC. Retrieved 2015-12-19.
  25. ^ "The Evidence Programme on Sanitation and Hygiene" (PDF). WSSCC. Retrieved 2015-12-19.
  26. ^ "We Can't Wait". WaterAid, Unilever, WSSCC. Retrieved 2015-12-30.
  27. ^ "UN reveals major gaps in water and sanitation – especially in rural areas". WHO. Retrieved 2015-12-30.
  28. ^ "Breaking the silence on open defecation". United Nations. Retrieved 2015-12-30.
  29. ^ "Women for water and sanitation declaration". Global Poverty Project. Retrieved 2015-12-30.
  30. ^ "Global Sanitation Fund Progress Report 2014" (PDF). WSSCC. p. 54. Retrieved 2015-12-19.
  31. ^ "Amina Mohammed to Chair Leading WASH Organization". News Ghana. 2016-01-19. Retrieved 2016-01-19.
  32. ^ "Australia's Aid Program". Australian Government Department of foreign Affairs and Trade. Retrieved 2015-12-19.
  33. ^ "Developmental Policy and Developmental Cooperation". Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. Retrieved 2015-12-19.
  34. ^ "Ministry of Foreign Affairs". Government of the Netherlands. Retrieved 2015-12-30.
  35. ^ "Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency". Government of Sweden. Retrieved 2015-12-30.
  36. ^ "Development and Cooperation". Government of Switzerland. Retrieved 2015-12-30.
  37. ^ "Department for International Development". Government of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 2016-01-08.
  38. ^ "A/RES/45/181. International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade". Retrieved 2015-12-17.
  39. ^ "Vision 21: A Shared Vision for Hygiene, Sanitation and Water Supply and a Framework for Action" (PDF). IRC. Retrieved 2015-12-17.
  40. ^ "Water and sanitation body completes move to UNOPS". ReliefWeb. Retrieved 2015-12-17.
  41. ^ Jong, D. de (2003) Advocacy for water, environmental sanitation and hygiene - Thematic overview paper, IRC, The Netherlands
  42. ^ "World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD)". WHO. Retrieved 2015-12-18.

External linksEdit