WASH Innovations

Oxfam has a long history of developing new innovations and technologies. Since 2004, those have been supported through the Oxfam WASH Innovation Fund.

Below are some of Oxfam’s key WASH innovations, many used across the entire WASH sector. Read about our Innovation Outcomes in full.

Plastic Latrine Slabs

Quick, cheap, and easy to install in an emrgency. Originally developed by Oxfam and KK Nag, variants of this are now ubiquitous in humanitarian responses everywhere.

The Jerry-Bucket

Stackable like a bucket, but once assembled the lid can't be removed and it transforms in a jerrycan. More robust than a regular container, not too heavy to carry, cleanable, and with no 'dimple' on the bottom so it can be carried on the head

Public Health Promotion

We were one of the first to recognise the need to work with communities to promote health, alongside building infrastructure. To this day we are one of few agencies to have a seperate 'PHP' team.


Rocky conditions in Dollo Ado, Ethiopia and collapsing soil in Gambella, Ethiopia, meant that normal pit latrines were difficult to dig. Oxfam have pioneered the use of double vault Urine Diverting Dry Toilets in refugee camps to overcome this.

'Oxfam' Steel Tanks

We pioneered the development and use of large, robust water tanks for humanitarian emergencies. They pack down easily for transport, but can be rapidly assembled for water treatment or storage. Now used by many agencies around the world.

Handwashing Stand

Fresh from several years of product development, including rounds of field testing, our new handwashing stand provides more functionality for use outside of communal latrines.

Sani Tweaks

Research in emergency settings has shown that humanitarian agencies are failing to properly consult the users of the latrines they build, leading many people – especially women and girls- to stop using those latrines as they find them inaccessible, unsuitable and/or unsafe. The Sani Tweaks approach is to consult, modify, and consult again. It has been rolled out across Oxfam programmes, and at two major interagency forums.

Community Perceptions Tracker

Using a mobile app to systematically collect, analyse and use qualitative information relating to people’s perceptions, beliefs, ideas and rumours. This helps to identify critical information gaps and to adapt information content on an ongoing basis. This is critical to promote trust and support behavioural changes

Solar Pumping

Although not a new technology, Oxfam partnered with IOM to run the Global Solar Water Project. Through offering practical advice, trainings and support visits the project has increased the ability of WASH practitioners to undertake solar pumping. There has already been a huge change in thinking about solar across the humanitarian sector, with several water systems running fully on solar power.

The WASH Innovation Fund

Since 2004, Oxfam carried out 72 distinct WASH innovation projects, and many of the innovations have since been implemented by other agencies. The aims of the fund are:

  • Encourage a culture of innovation amongst our Oxfam field staff, who are encouraged and rewarded for seeking out new ways of working
  • Play a critical role in helping the WASH sector develop more effective approaches and technologies, thereby improving the impact WASH programmes have on the poor and disaster affected people. The key here is that we are creating models that governments, institutions and the wider WASH sector as whole can follow and implement, not exclusive to Oxfam

WASH Research & Development Strategy

Read Oxfam Pioneers' Report to Donors