Oxfam WASH Teams

WASH programmes should be planned and implemented by Public Health Engineers (PHEs) and Public Health Promoters (PHPs) working together as a single “WASH Team”, and activities should be co-ordinated with Emergency Food Security and Vulnerable Livelihoods (EFSVL) and other technical programmes to identify opportunities for joint working. This section describes how all Oxfam WASH teams should work.


Oxfam PHP Best Practices 2010

Oxfam PHE Competency Framework, 2012

Oxfam PHP Competency Framework, 2012

Oxfam Technical Programme Management e-learning

From the WASH Cluster:
Job Descriptions for PHP Coordinator, Promoter and Community Mobiliser, 2009

WASH EMMA document (based on recommendations from Ethiopia) 2011

CaLP Case Study: Shop Vouchers for Hygiene Kits in Haiti

Minimum Requirements

  • For PHEs and PHPs to work together effectively, there should be:
    • Joint needs assessments and analysis covering both software and hardware issa activity planning, including logistics (e.g. efficient transport planning).
    • Regularly scheduled (weekly or more frequently) joint meetings to encourage effective collaboration and communication.
    • Co-ordinated presence in the field – avoid having multiple meetings with the same communities on the same day.
    • Community meetings that involve both PHE and PHP inputs.
    • A joint monitoring plan and joint analysis of monitoring data to identify implications for both PHE and PHP.
  • WASH staff working in different locations (e.g. different villages or camps) within the same overall programme should avoid contradiction or duplication between locations, e.g. agree technical specifications and hygiene approaches for the whole programme, and where possible don’t submit multiple material orders to logistics.
  • At the planning stages of new programmes the requirements for both PHE and PHP activities should always be considered: avoid programmes that are solely engineering or hygiene promotion unless clearly justified.
Roles and responsibilities - Joint responsibilities for PHE and PHP

All WASH staff are expected to:

  • Consult with the community on appropriatedesign and siting of WASH facilities and other activities
  • Enable the participation of affected communities and mobilise to organise collective activities.
  • Ensure that cross cutting issues such as gender, protection and HIV are appropriately addressed.
  • Identify context specific advocacy issues and contribute to programme advocacy strategy.
  • Make people and communities aware that they have the right to give feedback (and complain), explain how to do it, and that we have the obligation to respond.
  • Ensure adequate monitoring systems are in place to monitor, inform and adapt programme implementation.
  • Organize and facilitate capacity building and training for project staff and partners
  • Monitor health data to guide timely project interventions
Roles and responsibilities – PHPs

The Oxfam International Competency Framework for PHPs describes the skills that a PHP emergency staff member is expected to have to perform to Oxfam standards in different categories of emergency programmes.

In addition to all of the Minimum Requirements described in this document, PHPs should, in collaboration with PHEs:

  • Find out what women and men, girls and boys affected by emergencies know, do and think about water, sanitation and hygiene, and involve stakeholders, including the most vulnerable, in planning solutions to identified public health risks.
  • Build awareness within affected communities of health issues around WASH, by providing appropriate information on preventive measures to reduce WASH risks, and disseminate the information by using creative, culturally appropriate and effective communication methods easily understood by different members of the community.
  • Mobilise and train women and men amongst the affected communities to work / volunteer as mobilisers and health/hygiene promoters in their own communities.
  • Support PHEs to design facilities that are culturally acceptable and ensure effective use and maintenance of such facilities.
  • Collect community based health data
Roles and responsibilities – PHEs

The Oxfam International Competency Framework for PHEs describes the skills that a PHE emergency staff member is expected to have to perform to Oxfam standards in different categories of emergency programmes.

In addition to all of the Minimum Requirements described in this document, PHEs should, in collaboration with PHPs:

  • Assess technical options for the provision of water, sanitation and emergency shelters
  • Create designs based on technical feasibility and community feedback.
  • Organise, supervise and monitor construction, with an emphasis on inclusive and representative community engagement and participation.
  • Ensure that the facilities constructed are of good quality, and are maintained at that standard for the duration of the project.
WASH Staffing Considerations
  • The size and expertise of WASH teams required for different projects depends on a number of factors, both quantitative (e.g. target population and size of budget) and qualitative (e.g. type of disaster and complexity of programme - dispersed project sites, conflict etc.) but must consider an integrated team/response wherever possible.
  • WASH staff should work according to Oxfam's mandate and values and to agreed objectives and performance standards
  • The OI PHE and PHP Competency Frameworks should be used throughout a WASH programme, e.g. for recruitment and capacity building.
    WASH Co-ordinators

    Projects which have a WASH Co-ordinator who manages / advises both PHP and PHE programmes (staff & activities) should:

  • Have a manageable job description that is not just a combination of PHP and PHE tasks but which focuses on the co-ordination role.
  • Ensure that there are strong PHE and PHP Team Leaders to provide technical support equally to both sectors.
WASH and Emergency Food Security and Vulnerable Livelihoods (EFSVL)

WASH programmes should be coherent and integrated with other humanitarian work. Whilst WASH and EFSVL programmes are sometimes aimed at different groups (WASH activities generally address the wider public health needs of the entire community, whereas EFSVL work will usually be targeted to specific vulnerable livelihood groups), as much as possible WASH activities should be implemented with the same communities – especially where there is a high level of malnutrition.

Programme Managers / Technical Team Leaders should hold regular co-ordination meetings between WASH, EFSVL and other programmes to ensure integration and efficiency of implementation.

  • When working in the same area, every effort should be made to conduct joint:
    • Assessment and analysis
    • Community meetings to introduce activities (so that EFSVL and WASH are seen as part of the same programme)
    • Monitoring and evaluation
  • WASH and EFSVL teams should work together to identify opportunities for incorporating cash for work, cash transfers, voucher schemes and other ESFVL techniques into WASH activities where appropriate.
  • Ensure that the provision of cash does not undermine voluntary inputs from the community, particularly where this is an accepted norm.
  • Options for using local markets to source NFIs and WASH and shelter materials should be investigated by WASH teams with the support of EFSVL (and logistics) colleagues.
  • WASH teams should appraise options for income generation / revenue collection by WASH committees (for example to finance Operation and Maintenance (O&M)) with EFSVL colleagues.
  • Engage with EFSVL colleagues when designing shelter interventions (including beneficiary selection, modality of material provision – i.e. provide vouchers to purchase materials, skill-building programmes for local carpenters, etc).
Working with WASH Partners
  • WASH programmes should be flexible about modes of working with partners, as the options (partner-led, Oxfam-managed, semi-operational, etc.) may differ according to humanitarian need, country context, country partnership strategy, stage of emergency etc.
  • Due to the technical skills and competencies needed by humanitarian WASH partners, it is preferable to identify and build partners’ capacity during non acute-emergency phases. WASH programmes should be realistic about the (limited) opportunities for capacity building during emergency response.
  • Whichever method is chosen depends on the capacity of the partner and the primary objective of the programme (for example, is it rapid emergency response or longer-term capacity building), what is acceptable to the local partner, and ultimately, what is the most effective way for the project to deliver for the affected communities.
  • When identifying partners consider whether they have a shared vision and identify and agree with them the terms of the collaboration including what capacity building is available and possible.
Working with Finance, Logistics and other Programme Support Functions

The Humanitarian Handbook details Minimum Requirements for Programme Support Functions. In addition to this, WASH staff should:

  • Be briefed on the functions of Finance, Logistics, HR and other Programme Support teams, and understand how they interact with WASH programmes.
  • Receive a briefing on the overall programme budget, in particular the WASH activity budget, donors/sources of funds, and budget codes and how to use them.
  • Obtain regular updates on budget expenditure and forecasts
  • Seek guidance from Programme Support teams on activities such as market assessments, managing the risk of corruption, planning NFI distributions or delivery of construction materials (Logistics); impact on the environment; cash payments (Finance).
  • Minimise waste and use resources effectively and ethically, balancing quality, cost and timeliness