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WASH 2011 Conference

Water, sanitation and hygiene conference 2011


Click here to watch and listen to presentations from the conference


Click here to download the WASH Conference 2011 report

AusAID, WaterAid Australia, International WaterCentre, ISF, AWA. (2011). WASH Conference 2011 conference report.


Towards sustainability in water, sanitation and hygiene

There is a global crisis in sanitation and water: almost two-fifths of the world’s population (2.6 billion) people do not have access to improved sanitation; and roughly one in eight people (884 million people) do not have access to safe water. An essential element in tackling this crisis is to build the knowledge and skills of people working in this sector.

In 2011 practitioners and professionals from governments, donors and NGOs, students and academics, came together to discuss one of the greatest challenges to the water, sanitation and hygiene sector; sustainability.

The WASH conference and training program focused primarily, but not exclusively, on WASH services provision in developing countries including; water supply systems (in villages, towns and cities); household toilets and sanitation facilities in public and shared areas (such as schools, clinics and markets); and hygiene promotion from community-based to campaign approaches.


WASH 2011 program



The conference addresses four key themes:

  1. Functional and environmental sustainability
  2. Behaviour change and social sustainability,
  3. Institutional sustainability
  4. Financial sustainability.

These four themes are interlinked, and together are responsible for ‘sustainable’ WASH service delivery that will continue to provide better health and other benefits well into the future for the people served.

1  Functional and environmental sustainability refers to the extent to which water and sanitation infrastructure continue to function over time, through being used, operated and maintained in an on-going fashion. It implies the availability of spare parts through supply-chains and the necessary skills, support and business development services to keep services operational. One pre-requisite for functional sustainability is that the links to and from the wider environment remain supportive, that water resources and quality are maintained, and that waste products  are actively managed or recovered.

2  Behaviour change and social sustainability in WASH refers to how improved attitudes, practices and behaviours generated through WASH initiatives are continued over time, particularly with regard to hygiene behaviour and sanitation practices. This theme also includes how changes around gender, equity and the meaningful participation of marginalised groups and people with disabilities in WASH are sustained in the long-term.

3  Institutional sustainability refers to how the institutional structures that support WASH services are supported, renewed and sustained over the long term. This theme includes human resource management, technical skills, professional capacity and management approaches in both the public and private sectors, including sustainable engagement of the private sector. It also touches on how accountability and transparency, customer satisfaction as well as the broader institutional, political and policy settings can serve to support or undermine on-going institutional performance.

4  Financial sustainability focuses on approaches and mechanisms which enable continuous financial flows at required levels both for capital investment in WASH services and to cover the costs of operation, maintenance, repair, rehabilitation and replacement.   This theme includes financing mechanisms (both public and private), payment and tariff structures and cost recovery mechanisms.


Conference format

To enable practitioners to hone their skills in the WASH sector, learn about best practice approaches and allow for the exchange of ideas and discussion the conference consisted of plenary sessions, training, and workshops. The format of the training days was a mix of structured training and well-defined topics with some unstructured time free for delegates to nominate workshop ideas and discuss issues most important to them.

The conference ran for 2 days (Monday and Tuesday) and the training 3 days (Wednesday, Thursday and Friday). Participants could choose to attend both the conference and the training program, or either of these separately. 


The WASH conference was coordinated by the Water and Sanitation (WASH) Reference Group in conjunction with AusAID. The WASH Conference was managed by International WaterCentre and International WaterForum.


 *All images on the WASH 2011 pages are copyright of WaterAid



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