Exit from WASH Programmes

Oxfam frequently works in situations of change and transition. We may be leaving a camp, an area or a programme when the emergency phase of the project is completed, or when there are still ongoing WASH needs and activities. General principles for Programme Exit are detailed in the HUMANITARIAN HANDBOOK, however there are some specific considerations for WASH. WASH teams should be actively involved in determining exit plans in the early stages of the response to ensure appropriate technical input is given to decisions on continuation or phase out of WASH activities and to optimise long term positive effects and reduce dependency.


Oxfam: Rough Guide to Exit Strategies

Minimum Requirements

General Principles
  • WASH staff should work with logistics colleagues to ascertain the presence and functionality of local commercial suppliers of, for example, spare parts for WASH facilities or replacement hygiene items, as this will affect programme sustainability.
  • It is imperative when handing over facilities that a public meeting be held between Oxfam Representatives and other relevant stakeholders. This meeting should be used to ensure that there are no outstanding grievances (standard of the works, payments) and should be completed before final payment is made to contractors or partners.
Handover to other NGOs
  • The handover of WASH activities to another NGO needs clear communication between the affected community and staff from both Oxfam and the other NGO. If Oxfam is using a particular approach (for example not paying incentives to committee members or collecting market waste on a daily basis) WASH staff should advocate that the other NGO continues such policies. If this isn’t possible, changes should be explained clearly to the affected community.
Handover to government or traditional structures
  • Oxfam’s approach should be in line with the existing government or traditional system. Forming a water user association in country where this structure does not exist is not effective.
  • A community management system that is not in some way linked and accountable to local authorities is unlikely to be sustainable. All the information about who is responsible for continuing WASH activities (e.g. training and equipment provided, details of any revenue system initiated, the MoU, etc.) should be supplied to the relevant authorities.
Handover of facilities to communities
  • WASH facilities should be completely finished before they are handed over to the community, and the community needs to agree that the facility is ready for handover. A signed MoU should confirm this.
  • raining of communities or other stakeholders in O&M requires time, planning and resources. It should not be left until the end of the programme