In 2005, the Humanitarian Reform Agenda reviewed the effectiveness of emergency response in order to enhance predictability, accountability and partnership. The cluster approach was one of the elements introduced by this reform, with a clear mandate for improving coordination in emergencies. The Global WASH Cluster (GWC) was formed in 2006, building upon the successes of an existing Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) humanitarian sector working group. The GWC is an open and formal platform for humanitarian WASH actors to work together in partnership. The forum now consists of 76 members, comprising International Organisations, United Nations agencies and International Non-Governmental Organisations. Civil Contingency/response agencies, academic institutes and donors also play an active role.


The primary purpose of the cluster is the delivery of water, sanitation and hygiene promotion assistance to affected populations during emergencies through improved coordination of the response at all levels:

  • At the global level, the aim of the cluster approach is to strengthen system-wide preparedness and technical capacity to respond to humanitarian emergencies by ensuring that there is predictable leadership and accountability in the WASH sector.
  • At the country level the aim is to strengthen humanitarian response by demanding high standards of predictability, accountability and partnership. It is about achieving more strategic responses and better prioritization of available resources by clarifying the division of labour among organizations, better defining the roles and responsibilities of humanitarian organizations within the sectors, and providing the Humanitarian Coordinator with both a first point of call and a provider of last resort in all the key sectors or areas of activity.

UNICEF was nominated as the lead agency (see operational guidance on cluster approach – 2006) for the Global WASH cluster on the basis of its global network of operations, partners, resources and its recognized role in the field of emergency water and sanitation interventions.

The 2016-2020 GWC Strategic Plan describes how the GWC intends to deliver its core commitments. This plan is for all its members who are expected to contribute to the achievement of the plan and its objectives through participative engagement and partnership, both at global and country levels. It was developed through an extensive consultative process (using on-line survey, key informant interviews and document review) undertaken during the whole 2016 with a wide range of stakeholders, and consolidated after a final consultation with the GWC partners at the 21st GWC meeting held in Kathmandu on November 22nd and 23rd, 2016. ANNEX 1: GWCSP Result Framework ANNEX 2: GWCSP Monitoring Framework Learn more about the Global WASH Cluster partnership in the About Us section.





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