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Equitable access to water and sanitation services for all and in all settings and strengthened climate-resilience in the water and sanitation sector

Duration: 2023-2026 

Implementing entity: United Nations Economic Commission for Europe 

Cooperating entity: World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe 

Beneficiary countries: Kazakhstan, Montenegro, Republic of Moldova, Turkmenistan 

Woman in a national costume walking by the shore carrying a bucket of water


The objective of the project is to strengthen the capacity of policymakers and water and wastewater operators in beneficiary countries to develop and implement policies and measures aimed at ensuring equitable access to climate-resilient water, sanitation and hygiene services. The project seeks to address diverse challenges in an integrated manner and combines an equity lens with a focus on climate change resilience in the WASH sector. Additionally, the project is designed with a human rights approach and will contribute to the progressive realization of the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation. 


The COVID-19 pandemic is a reminder of the crucial role of WASH services as a first line of defence in preventing and controlling the spread of infectious diseases. However, safe access to water and sanitation should not be taken for granted in the pan-European region: despite significant progress, over 16 million people lack access to essential drinking water, and 29 million are in need of basic sanitation. Moreover, significant inequities persist between rural and urban areas, and vulnerable and marginalized communities such as homeless people, nomadic populations, and people living in informal settlements, face systemic barriers to accessing WASH services.  

At the same time, efforts to ensure access to water and sanitation need to go hand in hand with enhancing the climate resilience of WASH services. Indeed, if WASH services are not designed, built, and operated in a way that enables them to withstand the increasing impacts of climate change, risks would increase for human health and well-being, as well as for the environment, including water-related ecosystems. Despite widely available evidence of the occurring and predicted impacts of climate change on WASH services and on water resources, climate action in the areas of water and sanitation has remained slow. There is also a lack of explicit water-related components in various climate change documents, highlighting the need to promote integrated policies on climate change and WASH. 

Target audience

The key target stakeholders will be policymakers responsible for developing national policies on water and sanitation, as well as water and wastewater operators. All activities foreseen under the project require intersectoral cooperation between the ministries responsible for health and environment, and possibly other ministries working on related sectors (e.g. agriculture, infrastructure, education…). 

Project outputs 

Project output 1.1 

Two national and/or local workshops organized to support the application of the Equitable Access Score card and aiming at undertaking a detailed assessment of the equity of access to WASH at national and/or local level;

Project output 1.2

Two national workshops organized to (i) support undertaking systematic assessments of the policy landscape and WASH situation in institutional settings, and (ii) inform policy making and intervention planning at health care facility level using WHO tools (WASH FIT); 

Project output 1.3

Two advisory missions organized to provide technical advice and assistance to policymakers and other relevant stakeholders in the definition of national policies and measures to ensure equitable access to WASH, including in institutional settings, in the context of COVID-19 or other emergency situations; 

Project output 2.1

One regional workshop organized for policymakers and water and wastewater operators to exchange experience and gather good practices on building climate-resilient WASH services; 

Project output 2.2

Guidelines/collection of good practices on strengthening climate resilience of the water and sanitation sector and across other relevant sectors, also based on the findings and good practices identified and discussed through Output 2.1. This work will build on the 2011 Guidance on Water Supply and Sanitation in Extreme Weather Events

Project output 2.3

Two national workshops organized to support policymakers in developing policies and/or measures on climate resilience in the water and sanitation sectors, including through the setting of concrete and measurable targets on climate-resilient WASH services. This activity will also take place in the context of developing the guidelines/collection of good practices mentioned under Output 2.2; 

Project output 2.4

Two national trainings organized in priority countries to support water and wastewater operators in strategic planning for ensuring climate resilience in the WASH sector, including through the application of international recognized risk-based approaches (e.g. Water Safety Plans and Sanitation Safety Plans); 

Project output 2.5

Two Advisory missions organized to support policymakers and other concerned actors in integrating climate resilience into water and sanitation policy development/implementation; 

Project output 2.6

One policy paper analysing the interlinkages between the guidelines/collection of good practices, climate-sensitive targets and other climate-related processes such as the development of Nationally Determined Contributions, with the aim of providing recommendations on how to streamline climate policies in the water and sanitation sector at national level.