Community Engagement in Humanitarian WASH Responses

The overall aim of Oxfam’s WASH response in emergencies is to minimise public health risks in relation to water, sanitation and hygiene. This means working more directly with a wide range of people affected by the crisis to better understand them, to motivate them to make positive behaviour changes, and to strengthen their capacity to reduce/prevent public health risks and make their own decisions. We call this work community engagement (CE).

Community participation has always been the backbone of Oxfam’s emergency WASH programmes. But the way we do it now is different, with greater emphasis on forward planning and a deeper focus on building trust with crisis-affected populations to put them at the centre of our WASH programme. In practice, this involves continuous interaction and appropriate consultation with diverse community groups in relation to WASH facilities and services, acting on their concerns in a timely manner, and providing feedback on all changes made.


The following guides have been produced to provide greater clarity around CE in WASH, to explain how the approach is different to previous ways of working (rather than entirely new), and to deliver straightforward guidance around how to implement CE into emergency response programmes.

Minimum Requirements

WASH staff should: