Water sanitation hygiene

Environmental health in emergencies

Refugees in Kibati camp - Democratic Republic of Congo
WHO/Christopher Black

Emergency situations, including those due to natural hazards (e.g. earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, landslides, wildfires and droughts), technological hazards (e.g. chemical spills, disruption to infrastructure), complex situations (produced by conflict) and outbreaks, lead to health-related diseases and affect populations in all contexts. Depending upon the nature of the event, vulnerability of the people affected and capacity of local and national systems, deterioration in environmental conditions often results in a steep increase in WASH-related diarrhoeal disease. In particular, in emergencies WHO has the mandate to work with the Ministry of Health to ensure water quality and minimize water-related health risks and support provision of WASH in health care facilities.