WASH & The COVID-19 Pandemic Virtual Symposium

WASH & The COVID-19 Pandemic Virtual Symposium: Responses for Recovery & Resilience

One year after the COVID-19 pandemic was declared, countries across the region are at different stages of their preparedness, response and recovery and with varying experiences – they have observed different levels of resilience across their WASH, health and economic systems and have tried a range of responses. Some countries will have been through situations not yet faced by others, and have lessons to share.

Water and WASH Futures convened an online symposium to encourage participants to reflect, share and learn from our COVID-19 responses, to improve future responses to COVID-19, and to reflect upon readiness and ways to improve resilience to future pandemics and major disruptions, including climate change.

The online symposium ran over two days and included 2 panel sessions and 10 workshops.  Recordings and resources from each session have been collated below.


Panel and workshop resources

Panel: The Global WASH Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic – Did we get it right?

A range of actors from WASH and health sectors, from multilateral organisations, donors, country governments and civil
society critically reflected on the role the WASH sector played in the COVID-19
response, and what that indicates about our readiness for future shocks

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Panel: The COVID-19 Pandemic and WASH inequalities – what can we learn?

A diversity of speakers discussed the
linkages between inequalities in access to WASH services, and inequalities in COVID-19 responses, and what lessons we need to learn to improve the resilience and inclusiveness of WASH systems to cope with future shocks

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COVID-19, Gender and WASH

During the WASH and COVID-19 Pandemic Online Symposium, the Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF) at the University of Technology Sydney and partners, supported by the Water for Women Fund, convened a workshop on COVID-19, Gender and WASH.

The session provided participants with some latest research and tools on the relationship between COVID-19 impacts, and gender equality which was curated and presented by Melita Grant from ISF-UTS.

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COVID-19 & WASH behaviour change

During the WASH and COVID-19 Pandemic Online Symposium, Plan International Australia and partners, supported by the Water for Women Fund, convened a workshop on COVID-19 and WASH behaviour change.

This workshop shared and explored COVID-19 hygiene behaviour change efforts and reflected on the emerging lessons about what adaptations were needed, what has worked well and what has not, and how the Water for Women Fund’s focus on inclusive and sustainable WASH has been translated into and strengthened COVID-19 hygiene behaviour change approaches and outcomes.

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WASH it off – Practical ways for making health care facilities COVID ready with better WASH services

This session will present the latest global data, insights and framework on improving WASH in health care facilities. It will also engage participants in mini skill building sessions which look at how to provide WASH services and support hygiene practices that are also climate resilient and inclusive.

Coming soon

Share the Power: progressing inclusion of marginalised people in WASH through “not being neutral”

WASH projects, support, and assistance provided as part of the pandemic response have the opportunity to remove barriers for people with disability and SGM people.

This session focused on how development practitioners must never be neutral when it comes to inclusion of SGM people and people with disability, and how they can use these extraordinary times to shift the power.

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Collaborations for resilient and healthy people: WASH systems and COVID-19 response

No one individual or institution can ensure adequate and inclusive water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services are in place to mitigate the spread and impact of COVID-19.

Ongoing provision of these services depends on collaborations of people in government, civil society and the private sector as well as community and front line workers. Leaders, decision-makers, technical experts and advocates need to collaborate not just to extend access to services and behaviour change messages but in adjusting policy, implementing plans, executing budgets and generating useful data.

This workshop explored their experiences and what we as a WASH sector are learning about collaborative, systems responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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WASH enterprises: Lessons from COVID and the resilience of sanitation and hygiene enterprises to future shocks and stresses

Venture Resilience: Covid-19 has tested the world’s ability to respond to shocks and stresses, including some seeing it as a test to the challenges expected from climate change or future pandemics.

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COVID-19 Impacts on Water and Sanitation Utilities: Moving from emergency response to resilience

Globally, water supply and sanitation utilities have been impacted by COVID-19 in many realms: planning, operations, revenue, customer relations and human resources management.

The emergency responses to the pandemic have included deferring investment, accessing contingency funds, uptake of digital technologies, delaying construction and maintenance work and shifting to remote working conditions.

This workshop presented key impacts and responses by utilities and discussed how to build on the emergency response to build resilient utilities capable of managing this and future protracted crises.

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Risking everything for your safety and protection: sanitation workers on the frontline

Whilst sanitation workers are considered essential to achieve WASH SDG targets, their working and living conditions are seldom discussed in WASH decision-making and planning spaces. Many sanitation workers toil daily without personal protective equipment.

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What have we learned from water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) during school reopening?

The COVID-19 global pandemic has affected millions of children across almost every country, immeasurably disrupting children’s education and well-being. Schools across the globe have closed down, leaving over 1 billion students without access to education.

Coming soon

Early Career Professional Workshop

Designed to offer Early Career Professionals a chance to reflect on their symposium learnings, hear stories from other Early Career Professionals and challenge themselves to answer and think about ways COVID-19 has changed the way we work, engage and react.

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Summary videos

Early-Late and Late-Early shows were held in partnership with UNC Water & Health and SIWI World Water Week and summarise the days events.  Recordings of the Early-Late Shows for both days are found below.

Click the image to start the video

The online symposium WASH & the COVID-19 Pandemic: Responses for recovery and resilience is a knowledge-sharing event of Water and WASH Futures. Water and WASH Futures is a partnership activity of the Australian Aid program and International WaterCentre; this symposium is delivered with the partnership of Water for Women Fund and Grand Challenges CanadaFor more information, visit washfutures.com

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