‘Do No Harm’ for Inclusive WASH: Working Towards a Shared Understanding

December 2019

This note is based on the first Water for Women Fund Regional Learning Event held in Nepal in 2019, titled ‘Systems strengthening for inclusive WASH – leaving no one behind’. The event was jointly convened by the Water for Women Fund, together with SNV and gathered nearly 50 participants from Water for Women Fund projects and partners across seven countries. The Water for Women Fund sees an intentional focus on ‘Do No Harm’ (DNH) approaches as a critical way of supporting an ethical approach to inclusion. In addition, DNH approaches address the risk of backlash that comes with supporting representation and decision-making of women and marginalised groups to ensure that no one is left behind in WASH programming.  The Fund aims to sharpen collective understanding and practice.

Who might this resource be useful for and why?

Who: All those involved in the delivery of the WASH programme (e.g. WASH practitioners, change agents, universities, consultants, donor governments, etc.)

Why: A DNH approach is a critical part of working towards gender transformative change. In the WASH context, examples of harm could include acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that are used to punish, or frighten others into building a latrine or changing their WASH practices. Harms can take place at different locations: in the community, within the households or at health centres and schools. The purpose of this note is to assist WASH programme teams and their partners to consider how well they are currently integrating DNH concepts into their programming and how they can strengthen them as well as to review our own conscious and unconscious attitudes, and the way we use our own power.

Additional details

PublisherWater for Women Fund
ThemesBehaviour change, Challenging contexts, Gender, Gender transformative WASH, Leave no one behind, Social marginalisation, Social norms

Share this resource

Learn more about SLH Research

We use a range of research approaches, which aim to draw attention to urgent knowledge gaps, blind spots and emerging questions, often at a critical point in time, to support policy-makers, practitioners and partners in navigating and responding swiftly.

SLH Research and Learning