Water supply, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)

Healthy wetlands are essential for water and sanitation, for their role in providing water for drinking and sanitation services and for waste filtration. In arid and semi-arid parts of the Africa, healthy ecosystems are often the key factor for access to clean and sufficient water for especially the poor. But these natural water resources are depleted, polluted or degraded in other ways, thereby endangering the health of those depending on them. We work with the WASH sector to ensure that wetlands are used sustainably, and that the health benefits of communities depending on them are assured. 


Wetlands International is part of the Alliance of Netherlands-based water, sanitation and hygiene related development organisations (WASH Alliance). In their 5-year programme supported by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, these partners empower women and worse-off groups to increase their access to wetland-friendly WASH solutions. Through the alliance we work in Benin, Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia and Wetlands International Africa itself leads the alliance work in Mali and Uganda.

Uganda: water harvesting & wetland management

In the Uganda’s Rwambu wetland catchment a total of 79% of all the wetland dependent communities live below the poverty line. Furthermore, their use of the wetland products and services, such as livestock grazing, brick making, firewood collection, water supply, public toilet, hunting and fishing, is unregulated or unmanaged and encroach the very wetlands they depend upon. In order to tackle these problems we support local partner JESE to improve water access and rainwater harvesting in the Rwenzori region of Uganda. This harvesting provides options for recharge, retention and reuse of precious water.

Mali: preventing transmission of water-related diseases

Communities living in the Inner Niger Delta in Mali are among the most vulnerable in the world to water borne disease. Our Mali team heads a consortium of international institutions developing best practices for sanitation, waste disposal and water supply from which communities from many rural districts benefit. As part of these best practices we introduce environmental solutions that prevent the spread of these water-borne diseases.


The publication ‘Wetlands and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH): understanding the linkages’ (see below) helps understanding of how WASH and wetlands are connected, why these linkages are vital and how they can be better managed.




Inner Niger Delta, Mali
  • By implementing environmental solutions that prevent transmission of water-related diseases we protected 134,000 people from malaria, schistosomiasis and diarrhoea.
  • We provided clean drinking water, improved management of solid and liquid waste, improved latrines, and management of invasive weeds to these communities in the Delta.
  • Developed best practices for sanitation, waster disposal and water supply, benefitting rural districts such as Macina, Kolongo, Kokry, Mopti, Konna and Youwarou
  • Wetlands International Africa has set up a formal partnership with RAMCEA (Ramsar Centre for East African Wetlands (RAMCEA) in Uganda to provide further direct support and advice to Ugandese partner NGO Joint Effort to Save the Environment’ (JESE).
  • Partner NGO JESE completed a feasibility study for integrating water harvesting and wetland management. The study showed the importance of the catchment to surrounding communities and its (untapped) potential for water harvesting in the Rwambu catchment and Rwenzori region.